Ilkeston football clubs never employed a manager until Ilkeston Town was formed in 1945. For many of the first 22 years of Ilkeston Town's existence the team affairs were managed by the Committee, with great input from the trainer and the first team captain, and the General Secretary or Chairman often had the deciding voice. Since 1967, the club has always had a manager.
Below is a list of all the managers in the club's history, including the select few during its infancy, complete with mini biographies.
Aug 1945-Sep 1945
Work commitments meant that this former well respected local footballer was only in charge for a few weeks. He returned to the club as Secretary in 1946 but left in 1948 because his duties as a referee represented a possible conflict of interests. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 4, won 1, drawn 1, lost 2, for 9, against 18.
Sep 1945-Summer 1947
Ilkeston Town FC was actually formed in his house in July 1945. He took over from Horace Oliver as manager and remained in charge until the end of the 1946/47 season when the club decided to run first team affairs by committee. At this point he became Chairman, a position he held until October 1948. Town won the 1946/47 Derbyshire Divisional Cup under his leadership. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 55, won 29, drawn 3, lost 23, for 168, against 130.
Dec 1949-May 1950
A vastly experienced inside forward or wing half with undoubted quality, he took over as player manager in 1949 when the club decided it needed an individual in control of the team following an inconsistent start to the 1949/50 season. His appointment made little difference and although his spell wasn't a disaster it couldn't be termed a success either. McNaughton left the club at the end of the season and, once again, the Committee took charge of the team. A more detailed examination of this playing days can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 23, won 7, drawn 6, lost 10, for 43, against 53.
Jun 1961-Jan 1964
A fine defensive right half who had spent a number of seasons at Notts County he was appointed as player manager when the club felt the need for someone to guide the first team following their move up to the Midland Counties League. The hallmark of his teams was a tight defence and for this reason Town became difficult to beat, thus establishing themselves at this higher level. They finished third in his first season and won the Derbyshire Senior Cup in 1962/63 but a run of 10 league and cup games without a win during the early winter of 1963/64 led to his resignation. Details of his playing career can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 111, won 51, drawn 32, lost 28, for 205, against 137.
Jul 1965-Jan 1966
The 1964/65 season had been a poor one for the club and dwindling attendances had caused a hole in the finances. Without a manager for more than a year the club felt it necessary to appoint a player manager capable of enticing quality players, and the brief was to produce a team capable of playing exciting, attacking football. Rayner was just the man with his vast array of contacts and his own style of play mirrored what the Committee was after. Many of his signings were successful, including a number who starred in Ilkeston's Midland Counties League championship winning team of 1967/68. He didn't last long, however, as the rising attendances were not sufficient to curtail the financial problems. He chose to resign after a heavy New Years Day defeat at Lockheed Leamington, giving the reason that it was better for him to leave rather than releasing several of the fine players who were at the club. It was a shame because the club's fortunes had dramatically improved upon his arrival. Greater details of his playing days can be found in the Player Biographies section. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 24, won 13, drawn 4, lost 7, for 56, against 47.
Jul 1967-Nov 1971
The Committee had controlled team affairs since January 1966 but the talented players at their disposal lacked leadership and discipline. They took the plunge in July 1967 by appointing a player coach but the new incumbent's job description was quickly changed to player manager as a reward for his success. Dave Agnew improved fitness levels, tactical awareness and discipline to such a degree that Ilkeston won the Midland Counties League title at the end of his first season. An experienced left back, his teams mirrored his own defensive qualities and at times he was not always a popular figure at the Manor Ground, some supporters not always appreciating the team's perceived negative tactics. Nevertheless, despite the ongoing financial problems that saw the break up of the championship team plus a drawn out period during the 1969/70 season when the club became a Limited Company with all the unrest that entailed, his teams remained one of the better ones in the Midland Counties League. Agnew also oversaw the club's progression into the Southern League in 1971/72 but the style of play came into question again. In November 1971 he left by mutual consent. Despite not always having the fans onside, his record is impressive if judged by statistics alone. Details of his playing days can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 200, won 99, drawn 44, lost 57, for 338, against 239.
Nov 1971-May 1972
Born: Belper, 27/11/1940
Mick Walker's promising early career began at Nottingham Forest and he went on to play for Loughborough Colleges, Kettering Town, Matlock Town and Siemens. Injury prevented him from making serious progress but a determination to enter into coaching saw him become Ilkeston's reserve team boss. The club was so impressed by his methods that he was promptly promoted to first team manager upon the departure of Dave Agnew. Walker immediately changed the style of play, the team becoming more pleasing on the eye and their entertaining football earned them the nickname of 'Walker's Marvels'. The future seemed bright but he did so well that six months later he was appointed as coach to the Singapore national team. A teacher by profession, he enjoyed coaching and working with young players, and after spells managing Burton Albion and Boston United he became youth team manager at Notts County. This led to an appointment as first team manager at Meadow Lane in 1993 and since then he has worked for Leeds United's youth academy. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 26, won 11, drawn 9, lost 6, for 31, against 22.
Jun 1972-Jan 1973
Phil Waller, a Mansfield Town wing half, was an experienced but relatively young player when he was appointed as Ilkeston's player manager in the summer of 1972. He had a difficult challenge ahead of him as many of the players who shone under his predecessor had left, and his self confessed lack of knowledge of the Southern League First Division North proved to be a hindrance that he could not overcome. The team struggled at the foot of the table and as gates plummeted the club announced, without prior consultation with him, that they would drop back to the Midland Counties League at the end of the season. Unhappy with the circumstances he found himself in, Waller resigned. Details of Phil Waller's playing career can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 30, won 7, drawn 7, lost 16, for 27, against 39.
Jan 1973-Feb 1975
Already a first team regular, Geoff Ball had plenty of experienced in the Football League and he was appointed as Phil Waller's successor after a brief stint as caretaker. Performances improved sufficiently to avoid finishing bottom but the club stuck to its word by returning to the Midland Counties League for the 1973/74 season. With one of the lowest wage budgets in the league Ball was unable to look far for players and most of those at his disposal during his time in charge were based locally. With low morale and low crowds the best he could hope for was that he could build a team capable of avoiding having to apply for re-election each season, despite some bold statements to the contrary. A further reduction in wage costs preceeded his resignation in February 1975 although he claimed that he left for personal reasons. Details of Geoff Ball's playing career can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 97, won 29, drawn 27, lost 41, for 110, against 137.
Feb 1975-May 1978
A former Ilkeston player from the previous decade he had the unenviable task of trying to get the club back on its feet with precious little at his disposal. Promoted from the position of reserve team manager at least he went into the job with a full understanding of his task. Fortunes on the pitch scarcely improved and at times grew worse. However, the team did have a fruitful spell during the 1975/76 season when they played some of their best football for several years and the 11th place finish was Town's beat in the Midland Counties League during their spell at that level between 1973 and 1982. At the end of the 1977/78 season, when they finished second bottom, the club avoided having to apply for re-election on a technicality because Clifton withdrew from the Midland Counties League earlier in the season. Living on borrowed time, Chamberlain was dismissed after the season ended. Details of his playing days can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 136, won 32, drawn 33, lost 71, for 174, against 277.
Jun 1978-May 1980
Bill Fearn, who had played for Ilkeston as a youngster in the early 1960s, was well versed in the local non-League scene having played for and managed a number of clubs in the area. He didn't tolerate indiscipline and lack of effort and he surrounded himself with players and staff he trusted. The effects were almost immediate and although the team was never going to push for honours a great deal of pride was restored. Unfortunately, not everyone on the Board appreciated his no nonsense approach and his decision to suspend several players who hadn't turned up for training was criticised by some. Feeling that he hadn't got the backing of a Board who didn't share his vision, Fearn resigned shortly before the end of the 1979/80 season but remarkably stayed until it was completed because he felt duty bound. Bill Fearn's career can be found in more detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 78, won 23, drawn 22, lost 33, for 101, against 109.
May 1980-Jun 1982
David Stainwright, who had played regularly for Ilkeston early in the previous decade, took over as manager after previous stints as assistant manager at Long Eaton United and Kimberley Town. Results were poor initially and the team found themselves needing to win the last game of the 1980/81 season to avoid having to apply for re-election. Town scraped through but the 1981/82 season was also a disappointment despite the presence of a few talented players. However, it should be pointed out that Stainwright was responsible for the signing of these players and several of them came good for the club in due course. It was no surprise when he left the Manor Ground at the end of the 1981/82 season as the club decided it was time for a new man at the helm. Stainwright's career can be found in more detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 80, won 18, drawn 19, lost 43, for 88, against 139.
Jul 1982-Sep 1983
Born: Nottingham, 21/04/1952
Steve Holder, who joined Ilkeston from Long Eaton United where he was manager, built a useful team in his first season in charge. Adding some quality players to the squad the signs were brighter at Ilkeston than for some time. The team won the Derbyshire Senior Cup for the first time in 20 years and more impressively they reached the last 16 of the FA Trophy beating some bigger clubs along the way including Conference clubs Stafford Rangers and Barnet before losing to Enfield. However, form in the Northern Counties East League, newly created following the demise of the Midland Counties and Yorkshire Leagues, was frustratingly inconsistent. The team was expected to build on the promise of the 1982/83 season but a poor start to the new season led to Holder's dismissal. As a player he was a winger and at just 5'2" tall is believed to be Notts County's shortest ever player. He made one League appearance for The Magpies before joining Corby Town and from there he went on to Long Eaton where he subsequently became manager. At Long Eaton he was a prolific scorer, and scored frequently against Ilkeston, but a broken leg sustained during the 1981/82 season ended his playing days. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 59, won 21, drawn 15, lost 23, for 86, against 106.
Sep 1983-Sep 1986
Tony Cuthbert, who had arrived as his predecessor's assistant, was a well respected defender by fans and team mates alike. When Steve Holder was sacked Cuthbert was promoted to player manager, working as a caretaker for the first ten games. Such was his impact that Town were unbeaten during this period and climbed to the top of the Northern Counties East League. As a result he was offered the job on a permanent basis. Although he was unable to maintain such stunning progress Ilkeston finished in seventh place, their best position for 13 years. However, many of the better of a talented bunch of players left for bigger things and Cuthbert was unable to build on his fine start. The Robins finished bottom of the table in 1985/86 and transferred to the newly created Central Midlands League Supreme Division. Brian Harrison (see below) was promoted from assistant coach to work in tandem with him before the new season began but the partnership did not last long. Cuthbert decided to quit his management role in late September 1986 to concentrate on his playing and in 1988 he became secretary, a position he held with great distinction for over a decade. His career can be found in more detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 134, won 42, drawn 26, lost 66, for 178, against 228.
Aug 1986-Nov 1986
Although never solely in charge Brian Harrison was joint manager at Ilkeston, firstly alongside Tony Cuthbert and then John Froggatt (see below). A former Town left back over twenty years earlier he was promoted from his assistant coach role. His stay in management with Ilkeston was shortlived and he left to take charge of Nuthall. His career can be found in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston joint manager read:
played 12, won 4, drawn 2, lost 6, for 12, against 19.
Sep 1986-Jan 1988
As a player John Froggatt achieved legendary status at Ilkeston as a centre forward during the 1960s. He returned to the Manor Ground in September 1986, initially in a joint manager capacity with Brian Harrison, having gained management experience at Boston United. Froggatt took sole charge when Harrison left a couple of months later. With dire finances and a team performing in front of low crowds it was always going to be a challenge, and The Robins sruggled to make an impact in the Central Midlands League Supreme Division. However, there was a gradual improvement as his first season wore on and it finished on a high note when the team lifted the Central Midlands League Cup, the first trophy won in four years. Froggatt attempted to build on this small success but performances were mediocre during the first half of the 1987/88 season. After one poor performance too many he resigned in January 1988. John Froggatt's career can be found in greater detail in the Player Biographies section. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 52, won 18, drawn 13, lost 21, for 74, against 80.
Jan 1988-Dec 1988
Signed by his predecessor as a player, Mel Oliver took over as manager following a spell as John Froggatt's assistant. Rarely has an Ilkeston manager made such a positive impact in such a short space of time. At the time he took over Town were near the foot of the table. Four months later the team ended the season in third place. The hopes were that Oliver could build on this start and lead the club to the Central Midlands League Supreme Division title in 1988/89. After a sluggish opening a strong run of results suggested that this target was highly possible. But in December 1988 Eastwood Town made Oliver an offer that he couldn't refuse and he left prematurely to take the hot seat at Coronation Park. Oliver's career can be seen in more detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 38, won 25, drawn 7, lost 6, for 75, against 36.
Dec 1988-Apr 1989
One of Mel Oliver's first signings was a player who contributed greatly to the club's revival in fortunes. Dennis Jenas, father of Premiership footballer Jermaine, was a prolific striker in non-League football and he scored goals regularly for Ilkeston. He was immediately offered the manager's job upon Oliver's departure. Sadly, he was unable to lead The Robins to the title and they ended the 1988/89 season in a disappointing seventh. One of the reasons for the team's inconsistency was probably due to Jenas' own dip in form. He cited this as his main reason for handing in his resignation to new owner Paul Millership at the end of the season. Dennis Jenas' career can be seen in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 23, won 10, drawn 5, lost 8, for 39, against 30.
May 1989-Jul 1990
Carl Francis was Paul Millership's first managerial appointment. A former Ilkeston player he had a wage structure available to him that most of his predecessors could only dream about. One of Francis' first captures (although it probably had more to do with Millership than Francis himself) was former Scottish international and Nottingham Forest legend Kenny Burns. Despite assembling one of Ilkeston's most attractive squads for years Francis was unable to produce the expected results and the team finished sixth. It was the club's final season in the Central Midlands League as they had successfully applied to join the West Midlands Regional League, a league part of the 'pyramid' structure that gave Ilkeston the opportunity to progress up the ladder. Francis was not able to take the club any further because he resigned in pre-season claiming that chairman John Rayner was interfering too greatly in his plans and that he was facing the sack anyway. Carl Francis' career details can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 45, won 19, drawn 16, lost 10, for 63, against 45.
Jul 1990-Aug 1992
Bill Fossey had a track record in managing local clubs at non-League level when he was appointed as Carl Francis' successor. Previously manager of Priory FC he had also been in charge of Eastwood Town's reserves set up. His first season at Ilkeston was decent enough, the team finishing seventh in the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division, a league that was considered stronger than the Central Midlands League. It was expected that the 1990/91 season would be the final one at the old Manor Ground but, with the new ground nowhere near completion, they were to remain on the old ground for another year. However, the Manor Ground did not have floodlights installed and The Robins were demoted to the First Division as a result. Ilkeston under Fossey took it by storm and lost just one league game all season to win the title by a massive 22 points, as well as lifting the League Cup. They also beat Southern League Grantham Town away by a remarkable 5-1 scoreline in the FA Cup. Newly promoted and with a brand new ground hopes were high days after the 1992/93 season started Fossey resigned. He blamed the situation on Kenny Burns who he felt was a negative influence at the club. Owner Paul Millership was canny enough to realise that Burns' presence in the team added numbers through the gate and Fossey's resignation letter was accepted. Bill Fossey went on to manage Shepshed Albion, Priory, and Heanor Town. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 97, won 56, drawn 22, lost 19, for 228, against 107.
Aug 1992-May 1994
Danny Boyes, Bill Fossey's assistant who had made a couple of appearances for the club the previous season, was initially given the job on a caretaker basis but an impressive sequence of results led to his appointment on a permanent basis in October 1992 ahead of other candidates including Kenny Burns. That the team failed to build on its great start and win a second successive promotion was not down to Boyes but rather the poor drainage on the New Manor Ground. A host of postponements led to a huge fixture backlog and The Robins had to settle for sixth place. However, Boyes led Ilkeston to their first Derbyshire Senior Cup success in ten years. Greater success was to follow in 1993/94 when the club won the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division title and Cup double. It was therefore something of a surprise when Paul Millership decided a change of manager was required for the Southern League challenges that lay ahead and Boyes was given a commercial manager role. However, there were some that said that the team's success was more down to the players than any management qualities that Boyes possessed. Such an opinion is probably not totally fair as he was responsible for bringing in many of the players who brought success to the club. Danny Boyes' career can be found in more detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 96, won 58, drawn 16, lost 22, for 221, against 104.
May 1994-Sep 1995
Born: Nottingham 29/01/1947
Bill Brindley was a former England schoolboy and youth international who carved out a career as aprofessional career. A sturdy, stocky full back he played 15 times for Nottingham Forest where he scored 1 goal. However, it was across the river at Meadow Lane where he made his name. Brindley made 223 League appearances for Notts County. A spell at Gillingham followed where he scored 1 goal in 20 games before he moved into non-League with Grantham, Burton Albion and Alfreton Town. His first management role was at Nottingham side Meadows Albion and he progressed to team manager posts at Boston and Heanor Town before joining Ilkeston. His one full season at the New Manor Ground is fondly remembered. Ilkeston's cavalier attacking style led to some thrilling games and plenty of goals at both ends, yet the ploy was successful. The Robins won promotion to the Southern League Premier Division by finishing as runners-up in the Midland Division, promotion being clinched with the unforgettable 7-1 thrashing of fellow challengers Tamworth in the penultimate game of the season. Ilkeston also reached the last 16 of the FA Trophy where they were finally knocked out by crack Conference outfit Kidderminster Harriers in a replay. Town had beaten Conference opposition in the shape of Welling United in the previous round. Brindley suffered from ill health during the close season and the club entered the highest level in its history with arguably a poorer squad than they had the season before. It was soon obvious that the Southern League Premier Division was a step too far for many of the players and a humiliating 10-1 defeat at Merthyr Tydfil in September 1995 led to Brindley's demise. He returned to management at Arnold Town where he worked in an assistant's role before being promoted to joint manager alongside former Ilkeston player Bryn Gunn. Bill Brindley's record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 71, won 36, drawn 13, lost 22, for 153, against 133.
Oct 1995-Feb 1996
Born: Llwchwyr, Wales, 16/02/1953
One of the highest profile names ever to be involved with Ilkeston Town, Leighton James was a former Welsh international outside left who won 54 full caps and a further 7 at under 23 level. He scored 10 goals for his country in full internationals. James made his name at Burnley where he scored 44 goals in 181 games. Then followed spells at Derby County (68 appearances, 15 goals), QPR (28 appearances, 4 goals), Burnley again (76 appearances, 9 goals), Swansea City (98 appearances, 27 goals), Sunderland (52 appearances, 4 goals), Bury (46 appearances, 5 goals), Newport County (28 appearances, 2 goals) and finally Burnley for a third time (79 appearances, 13 goals). His first coaching role came at Bradford City where he looked after the youth team and a short spell as acting manager for their first team followed. James then built up his profile managing non-League clubs such as Gainsborough Trinity, Morecambe and Netherfield. He joined Ilkeston a few weeks after Bill Brindley's departure, taking over from player and director Paul Fletcher who had been looking after the team. All was looking well when Ilkeston won their first three games under his leadership but then they immediately went on the worst run of results in the club's history. Unable to lift the morale of players who were frequently outclassed, James left the club in February 1996 as they lay rooted at the foot of the Southern League Premier Division with relegation a near certainty. James had failed to win any of his last 20 games in charge. His management career was far from over, however. After time away from the game he subsequently managed Accrington Stanley and Lanelli, coached Garden Village, and has been academy director at Port Talbot. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 23, won 3, drawn 4, lost 16, for 26, against 48.
Feb 1996-Oct 2000
Keith Alexander is both the longest serving and the most successful manager in Ilkeston Town's history. While it is true that he had an unprecedented amount of funds at his disposal it cannot be denied that he provided supporters with the sort of success they had craved. A former Ilkeston player with a long career in non-League and professional football he arrived at the New Manor Ground and set about transforming the club's fortunes. Alexander immediately rebuilt the squad in a futile but glorious bid to stave off relegation. Hopes were high for an immediate return to the Southern League Premier Division but the right blend was not struck until late in the 1996/97 season and the team just missed out on promotion. However, the platform had been built and Alexander oversaw one of the finest seasons in the club's history. The 1997/98 season saw the team simply destroy almost all who faced them in front of Ilkeston's biggest gates for thirty years. Promotion was won in style with fast, direct football that was seen on national television. Not only did Ilkeston reach the first round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1955 but they also went one better than that by beating Boston United. They then produced one of their finest ever displays, shown on Match of the Day, and were just a few minutes from a shock win at Scunthorpe United before they went down 2-1 at home in the replay. Alexander then led Ilkeston to their highest ever placing, third in the Southern League Premier Division in 1998/99. Chairman Paul Millership's vision of Conference football looked a possibility the following season and Town embarked upon another glorious FA Cup run that climaxed with their first ever victory against League opposition when they beat Carlisle United in the first round before losing to Rushden & Diamonds in a second round replay. Sadly, the Cup seemed to take a lot out of the players and the promotion challenge faltered. It also seemed as if Millership was unable to finance the club to the same degree as Alexander sold a number of key players early in 2000. Certainly the players he was to sign in the future were not of the same calibre, and following an inconsistent start to the 2000/01 season, Alexander felt that he had taken Ilkeston as far as he could. He duly resigned and has gone on since to manage successfully in the lower reaches of the Football League, despite a period of serious ill health that was at one time life threatening. Not always appreciated by all of Ilkeston's fan base at the time because of his preferred route one style of football, most now look back at his time with the club with great fondness. Keith Alexander's career can be seen in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 253, won 133, drawn 60, lost 60, for 527, against 333.
Nov 2000-Mar 2001
Born: Montrose 28/10/1949
Following Keith Alexander's departure Ian Helliwell briefly took over as caretaker manager. After taking Ilkeston to the first round of the FA Cup with a win at Hucknall Helliwell stood aside for John McGovern to take over permanently. McGovern previously held a number of management roles, starting as assistant at Chorley before being promoted. He then became assistant manager at Plymouth Argyle, joint manager at Rotherham United alongside Archie Gemmill, Woking manager and assistant manager at Hull City prior to his Ilkeston appointment. One of his earliest games in charge was the 4-1 FA Cup defeat at Swindon Town but results were reasonable to begin with although inconsistent. However, it soon became apparent that the players were unresponsive to his management style and a series of woeful displays saw Town drop dangerously close to the relegation zone. He was sacked in early March 2001 after the team had gone eight league games without a win. As a player McGovern knew his limits and played to his strengths in midfield to carve out a successful career, most of which was played under the guidance of Brian Clough. Starting out at Hartlepools United (72 appearances, 5 goals) he went on to Derby County (190 appearances, 16 goals) where he won the League title, Leeds United (4 appearances), Nottingham Forest (253 appearances, 6 goals) where he won the League title again as well as the European Cup twice, before ending his professional playing days with a spell as player manager at Bolton Wanderers (16 appearances). McGovern's last club as a player was Horwich RMI. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 23, won 6, drawn 7, lost 10, for 23, against 35.
CHRIS MARPLES, CHARLIE BISHOP & IAN HELLIWELL
Mar 2001-May 2001
Two former Ilkeston players plus one, Ian Helliwell, who was still playing regularly, were brought in to halt the decline and guide the club to safety by the end of the 2000/01 season. The trio did what was needed, and two of them later became Ilkeston managers in their own right on a permanent basis. Career details of each can be found in Player Biographies. Their record as a management team read:
played 12, won 5, drawn 3, lost 4, for 13, against 13.
Jun 2001-Mar 2002
Chris Marples, a popular former Ilkeston goalkeeper, was appointed as first team manager during the summer of 2001 and some astute signings meant that he built a team that evoked memories of Keith Alexander's era. For a time Ilkeston were well placed for a title challenge but suddenly it all went awry. From December through until early March Ilkeston didn't win a single game in the Southern League Premier Division and this alarming slump sent them careering down the table towards a relegation scrap. Marples was sacked after a run of 13 league and cup games without a win. His career can be seen in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 38, won 13, drawn 12, lost 13, for 57, against 57.
Mar 2002-Oct 2002
Charlie Bishop and Ian Helliwell briefly took charge of the team until a successor was found to replace Chris Marples. The man chosen was John McGinlay, the former Scottish international striker, who had received positive comments during his time as Gresley Rovers manager prior to his arrival at Ilkeston. He started rebuilding the team almost immediately with one eye on preventing relegation and the other on assembling a competitive squad for the following season. With relegation duly avoided it seemed as if Ilkeston could become a force to be reckoned with. Sadly none of his players seemed to play anything like what they were capable of and the team made a disastrous start to the 2002/03 season. A steady stream of defeats led to McGinlay's departure. John McGinlay's career can be found in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 26, won 8, drawn 6, lost 12, for 36, against 39.
Oct 2002-Oct 2003
A popular figure at the New Manor Ground both as a former player and in his previous in various management capacities Charlie Bishop had the unenviable task of trying to prevent what seemed to be inevitable relegation. His appointment came after reserve team boss had been given Martin Sammuels had been given one game in temporary charge. During the winter months Ilkeston were frequently outclassed and they suffered a number of heavy defeats. However, in a manner reminiscent of Keith Alexander's glorious but unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation in 1995/96, Bishop's team rallied late in the season with a series of excellent displays and he almost pulled off the impossible. Relegated to the Southern League Western Division, the 2003/04 season was a crucial one because of the forthcoming restructuring of the non-League 'pyramid'. Ilkeston needed to finish in the top seven if they were to preserve their status as a step three club. Despite a humiliating opening day defeat against Redditch United it seemed as if Bishop was up to the challenge with a swift improvement in results. However, a run of five defeats in six games during the early autumn led to his departure. Charlie Bishop's career can be found in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 50, won 18, drawn 12, lost 20, for 78, against 102.
Oct 2003-Sep 2005
Phil Stant was a much travelled striker who scored goals regularly in the Football League and he joined Ilkeston after gaining management experience with Gainsborough Trinity. His aim, to get Ilkeston a top 7 finish in the Southern League Western Division in 2003/04, was destined to end in failure and The Robins lost their step 3 status due to the restructuring in the 'pyramid'. Superb away form counted for nothing because of a series of dismal home displays and Stant had to wait five months before he tasted victory on the New Manor Ground. Ilkeston transferred to the Unibond League First Division in 2004/05 whereupon they completed their least convincing promotion season in their history. Unbeaten in their first 11 league games Town subsequently seemed to play with fear and a series of heartstopping narrow victories, drawn games that should have been won, and defeats that should never have been, meant that they almost apologetically limped over the finishing line in second place. Fortunately, Stant had put together a well marshalled defence that had made them difficult to beat and it could be said that the end justified the means. However, Ilkeston struggled to adapt to life in the Premier Division and with the team struggling near the bottom Stant resigned a few weeks into the new season. Although his teams didn't always play with flair Stant cut a popular figure amongst many of the supporters for whom he always had time. Phil Stant's career can be found in greater detail in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 97, won 44, drawn 22, lost 31, for 142, against 117.
Oct 2005-May 2008
Signed as a player by his predecessor Nigel Jemson had played at the highest level of the domestic game. Although past his best as a player his knowhow was of great use during Stant's promotion season even though there were times when he didn't always appear to be a 'team player'. When Stant resigned Jemson wasn't slow to indicate that he wanted the job although he was only taken on as a caretaker manager alongside team mate Craig Gaunt to begin with. After a month he was offered the job permanently and although the team was still near the bottom results gradually improved and Town finished the season comfortably. Results were inconsistent in 2006/07 and as a result Ilkeston were very much marooned in midtable almost from start to finish. Even so, this represented a step in the right direction and hopes were high that Jemson could keep the momentum going in 2007/08, with the play offs a realistic target. To describe the 2007/08 season as a disaster may be overstepping the mark but the fact that they only managed to stay up on goal difference, with some thoroughly abject displays, tells the story. However, the greatest tragedy happened off the pitch when Paul Millership passed away in late 2007. The effect on the club was evident although whether or not Jemson and his players could be excused their poor performances as a direct result of the benefactor's death is debatable. Ilkeston lost the final match of the season 4-0 at Whitby, a game The Robins needed to draw to ensure safety. Fortunately results elsewhere meant their lack of fight wasn't costly. Days later, with the arrival of a new owner and Board, Jemson had gone. Details of Nigel Jemson's career can be found in Player Biographies. His record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 144, won 54, drawn 39, lost 51, for 231, against 211.
May 2008-Dec 2008
Born: Walthamstow, 8/11/1968
David Holdsworth was a fine central defender in his playing days and was capped by England under 21s while at his first club Watford. He spent many seasons at Vicarage Road and amassed 258 appearances and scored 10 goals for The Hornets. Later in his career he had spells at Sheffield United (93 appearances, 4 goals), Birmingham City (84 appearances, 7 goals), Walsall on loan (9 appearances, 1 goal), Bolton Wanderers and Scarborough (16 appearances, 1 goal). His desire to move into management and coaching led to him becoming reserve team manager at Gretna where he also was in charge of youth development. When Gretna's ambitious move up the Scottish football ladder ended in disaster with the death of their owner and the closure of the club Holdsworth looked for a management position in England and found it at Ilkeston Town. Ilkeston's new owner, Check Whyte, and the new Board quickly installed him in May 2008 and Holdsworth immediately cleared out the old guard and brought in a whole new squad. Fears that the new team would take time to gel were unfounded. Playing a brand of quality football rarely if ever seen before by Ilkeston fans the team was supremely organised, and played with character and skill. It was soon clear that The Robins were capable of finishing in at least in the play off positions. If there was one criticism it was that the team was too cautious at times and an inability to finish opponents off occasionally cost them points. Few complained, however, because the transformation in fortunes had been incredible. It was predictable that Holdsworth's efforts would draw attention from elsewhere and after being linked with a number of vacancies he left Ilkeston to become Mansfield manager at Christmas. Allowing ambition to rule over sentiment his decision created a degree of resentment amongst some supporters, not least because they were afraid that their dreams would go up in smoke. David Holdsworth's record as Ilkeston manager read:
played 31, won 18, drawn 8, lost 5, for 48, against 29.
PAUL HURST & ROB SCOTT
Dec 2008-May 2009
Paul Hurst and Rob Scott were players with vast League experienced who had been signed by David Holdsworth a few months earlier. To avoid rocking the boat the Board were in no rush to replace Holdsworth and gave the pair an opportunity in the short term to show what they could do. It was obvious very quickly that they had the respect of the players and after a few weeks they were given the job for the remainder of the 2008/09 season. Remarkably the team seemed to improve further still under their guidance. With Scott in the dugout and Hurst on the pitch they allowed the players to express themselves with greater freedom whilst maintaining the principles that Holdsworth had instilled. Incredibly the team spirit seemed to grow even stronger and the players never knew when they were beaten. A tremendous sequence of 26 league games unbeaten, the last 19 of which took place under Hurst and Scott's management, took them to within a whisker of automatic promotion to the Blue Square North. Despite the disappointment of missing out the players showed their character by winning promotion via the play offs with performances of true endeavour and self belief in both the semi final, when they came from behind to beat Kendal 4-3 after extra time, and in the final when they beat Nantwich Town 2-1 despite going down to ten men with 15 minutes of normal time remaining. Scott and Hurst had worked wonders but the expected offer of a permanent job never materialised. After being kept waiting for a decision longer than either of them deserved the pair walked out to take up the vacant manager's position at Boston United. Angered and bewildered by the events Ilkeston supporters became fiercely critical of the Board and the next manager had a difficult task to win them over. The pair later went on to manage Grimsby Town. Both Scott and Hurst's career can be found in more detail in Player Biographies. Their record as Ilkeston managers read:
played 29, won 18, drawn 6, lost 5, for 57, against 36.
Born: Banbury, 18/4/1961
Kevin Wilson had a long and successful playing career after starting out with Banbury United. His ability as a forward earned him international recognition and he scored 6 goals while winning 42 caps for Northern Ireland. His first League club was Derby County for whom he scored 30 goals in 122 appearances. His other clubs included Ipswich Town (98 appearances, 34 goals), Chelsea (152 appearances, 42 goals), Notts County (69 appearances, 3 goals), and Bradford City (5 appearances) before he moved into management whilst still playing. At Walsall (125 appearances, 38 goals) he was assistant player manager and he then became player manager at Northampton Town (31 appearances, 2 goals). His latest managerial appointments have been in non-League football and he has had spells in charge at Aylesbury United, Bedford Town, Kettering Town (twice), Hucknall Town and Corby Town. Before joining Ilkeston he had been running an academy for young players at Rushden. Wilson's arrival at Ilkeston coincided with a need to rebuild the squad just when a period of stability was required to meet the new challenges of Blue Square North football. Many of Town's talented squad left the club following the loss of the previous management team although some, due to offers from bigger clubs, may well have left anyway. Wilson uncomplainingly set about his task with integrity against a backdrop of uncertainty brought by the news that the club owner, Chek Whyte, was facing bankrupcy. He guided the team to within three points of the play-off positions at the end of his first season as well as taking the club to the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in nine years. With Whyte departed, Gary Hodder stepped into the breach in March 2010 but the club was still beset by the financial problems he inherited. Nevertheless, Wilson continued to produce good results on the pitch as well as setting up an academy off it. When the shocking news came through that Town had been wound up, he showed great dedication by remaining at the ground to continue his work with the Academy, and was rewarded with a long term contract when Ilkeston FC came into being in November 2010.