In the close season, Steve Nixon stepped down as manager of Irlam FC, and took over as Chairman of the club.
Steve has given us an insight on his first few weeks in the role, and his hopes and aspirations for the coming season.
"After having a successful season in the Premier Division, I decided that my time as Manager was up. I want to focus on building the commercial side of the club, raising local awareness of the sides which should help to bring in much needed funds.
The first few weeks in the role has certainly been an eye opener for me. After managing the sides from U18’s through to the reserves and eventually the first team for the past 4 seasons, stepping in to the “boardroom” so to speak was bound to be a challenge.
Thankfully, a few things have fitted in to place and have given me the backing and support to get stuck in to this. Firstly, outgoing Chairman Ron Parker and the committee have welcomed me as Chairman, my assistant Chris Boardman has also joined the committee and once again has given me his full support.
The committee is now 6 strong rather than just the 3 guys, and we hope to get one more on board during this season once we have settled in to the task in hand.
I now realise how much hard work has been done in the 6 years I’ve been at Irlam. Ron Parker, Warren Dodd (Club Secretary) and Ian Street (Treasurer) have ensured the football management have had little to worry themselves about in recent years. Volunteers have been very thin on the ground.
I used to ring Warren or Ian and say “Can you cut pitch 2 before tonight’s training session as it's getting a bit long!” I’m surprised they both didn’t tell me where to go!!
How the club has got to where it is with just 3 or 4 people being involved in the day to day running is incredible. My utmost respect goes to Warren, Ian, Ron and Dave Mulligan who is a highly valued volunteer. Dave has now decided to join the committee.
We need the Club and Football to grow at the same pace, it’s no good one out stripping the other or one falling behind. A couple of seasons ago I gave the players a picture of where I felt we were at, both on and off the field.
At the time is was undeniable that the facilities (New Clubhouse, excellent changing rooms, the pitch, training facilities and qualified coaches) set the standard of at least a Hallmark Security League Premier Division club, if not the Evo-Stik League.
Thankfully, the players responded, gave me more commitment, got fitter and more disciplined, resulting in our promotion 2 years ago.
I want us to gain promotion to the Evo-Stik League in the next 3 seasons, but I realise we need to have things in place to assist the 1st Team Management in doing their job.
We are very lucky at the club, having 3 successful sides. John Mains' U18’s give the local Youth players a fantastic entry to the club, we now have a new Management Team in place with the U21’s side, and Lee, Joe & Scott hope to carry on the U21’s success from last season.
Michael Dodd, 1st team manager, has got his team around him who offer us years of experience in the Hallmark Security League and are looking to follow in Atherton Colls' footsteps with promotion.
Mine and the committee’s aims for the season are four-fold:
Improve our profile locally - This will be through several avenues - Sponsorship, the local magazine, visiting local businesses, fund raising events at the club etc..
Develop the catering facilities - a new Food outlet separate to the clubhouse.
Increase paid support through the turnstiles
Increase number of volunteers- People buy-in with inclusion, Team work and common goals.
We have an Action Plan in place and are putting together Working Parties to spread the load.
Ultimately, a healthy financial situation drives improvement at any club and will determine how far we can go. The 4 aims this season should put us in a stronger position 12 months from now.
I’m looking forward to watching from the stands rather than the dug-out. If all else fails I’ll get my boots and big coat out again!!"