Wilkins jumped at chance to take over Needham

TAKING OVER: Richard Wilkins
TAKING OVER: Richard Wilkins
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Richard Wilkins said he had no hesitation in accepting the offer to become Needham Market manager from the start of next season

The former Bury Town and Leiston chief will take over the reins at Bloomfields for the 2017/18 campaign, following the announcement on Wednesday that current Needham boss Mark Morsley will be stepping down at the end of the season.

Morsley will take up the new role of chairman of Needham Market Football Club Ltd, a new company the Free Press has found was set up with Companies House in January last year as part of a restructure at the club. Meanwhile, Keith Nunn, the current club chairman, has said he will continue as president and chairman of Needham Market FC, as well as being a board member of the Limited Company.

It is understood Morsley’s role will be akin to a director of football, involving helping Wilkins carry out the job of first-team manager.

Wilkins, who joined the club as assistant manager last summer, is excited by the challenge of becoming first team manager next season, but is eager to first give Morsley a fitting send off.

The Marketmen head into a trip to Staines Town tomorrow (3pm) still inside the Ryman League Premier Division play-offs, a position they have occupied for the last 181 days, and Wilkins hopes they can keep their spot in the top five come the end of the season.

“When I spoke to Mark in the summer he did say to me about in the future taking over as manager,” Wilkins explained. “But I didn’t think it would be this quick, I thought it would be a couple of years.

“We had a meeting on Friday last week about it and I didn’t have a lot to think about. It’s a good opportunity for me and I’ve enjoyed my time at the club so far.

“There’s some really good people there and they’ve made me feel welcome. It’s important the club is going forward, which it is.

“We’ve had an excellent season no matter what happens in the next five games. Hopefully we can have a nice send-off for Mark and get in the play-offs and win the (Suffolk Premier Cup) final as well.

“Mark’s going to be a tough act to follow but I’m confident that I’m the right person to take the club forward.”

Morsley first joined the Marketmen as manager in 2003 and guided the club to promotion from the Thurlow Nunn League First Division to the Premier Division in 2005, as well as clinching the Suffolk Senior Cup title.

Following spells at AFC Sudbury and Harwich & Parkeston, Morsley returned to Bloomfields to assist then manager Danny Laws in 2009.

The duo led Needham to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title a year later and with it promotion up into the Ryman League for the first time.

After a successful spell at Suffolk rivals Leiston, Morsley returned to the Needham hotseat in 2013 and, under his tutelage, the Marketmen won the Ryman League Division One North title in 2014-15 to achieve promotion to Step Four for the first time in their history.

Club chairman Nunn added: “Mark’s been with us for 15 years on and off, he had spells at Sudbury and Leiston during that time, but his heart has always been in Needham.

“He’s part of the fabric of this club and the plan always was for Mark to take over as chairman.

“We’ve got five more games left this season as well as the Suffolk Premier Cup final in May, so there’s still a lot to play for this season before Mark changes roles at the club.”