Richard Brodie has spoken for the first time since leaving Skelmersdale United to become the new manager of Burscough.
The 35-year-old was confirmed as the new Linnets boss in a shock move on Tuesday afternoon.
Brodie was appointed as the Blues boss following Paul McNally’s departure eight months ago and in their first season back in the Northern Premier League, they finished 11th. However, after failing ground gradings, they were demoted back into the North West Counties.
On Monday, the allocations for the Non-League Pyramid were released, subject to appeals and ratifications, and it saw Burscough handed a reprieve from relegation. The Linnets have been managerless since Todd Blayney left his position as manager to become the assistant at Haig Avenue with Liam Watson’s Southport.
Both West Lancashire clubs have had differing fortunes in recent seasons. Skem have tasted promotion as well as a formidable FA Cup run which saw them reach the First Round of the competition. Burscough meanwhile have suffered with problems off the pitch and last season saw Blayney’s predecessor resign on the eve of the curtain-raiser.
Preparations for the upcoming campaign are well underway across the country, some clubs are announcing their pre-season plans while others are quietly going about business.
Following their demotion, the former York City and Southport striker was defiant that he can help lead back to where they were as they look to bounce back. However, weeks later uncertainty is back looming over the Blues and the situation at Skem appears to be precarious.
Brodie’s backroom staff departed from their positions, three of whom took up roles at Bootle, and there has been little talk of pre-season plans with the season set to begin at the end of July.
“To be honest, nothing’s changed and that’s the whole reason why I’ve decided to part ways,” Brodie told Off The Park describing his decision after previous claims. “It’s a real difficult situation and I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m calling the football club, at the end of the day, I was a player, a coach in the FA Cup run and I proudly managed the football club.
“We all know the club had its difficulties with the groundshare and financial restraints but there was no guarantee that things were going to get better, although that wasn’t for want of trying. We’re now three or four weeks down the line and we’re in exactly the same position, I feel as I was before and to be honest, it got to a point where it was affecting my life, I couldn’t sleep worrying about the club and that’s because I care.
“At the end of the day, the top and bottom of it, I got to asked to do a job which my players, staff and I done.
“The fact of the matter is Skem United finished in their highest position in the non-league pyramid for a long time but it got to a point where there was no ground, no friendlies, no staff, no players, the chairman and the board are trying to turn things round – from my heart, I hope they do.
“When I come into management, I wanted to help players not make the same mistakes I did as a player but I didn’t look after myself enough as a player so I have to be a little bit more selfish now and look after myself,” he continued.
“I decided that three weeks down the line, people will say ‘you said you were going to stay’, I did on the basis that things would change and they didn’t. It’s sad, really sad but I felt it’s the right decision for me. I fully believe I’ve made the right decision but I hope the club sorts itself out and gets in a better place because it has been a fantastic football.”
Skelmersdale United were forced to move from their previous home, JMO Sports Park, after their promotion to the Northern Premier League West Division following a FIFA Bounce Test fail. Burscough’s Community Ground became the alternative which allowed them to see out the season at Step Four.
However, there was little change throughout the campaign and the ground, just metres away from their former home which has since been demolished, failed. Off The Park understands that another club was told that they couldn’t groundshare with the North West Counties club due to not meeting the required grades.
“We all know that the club is in difficulty, and it isn’t the only club in difficulty, non-league football is hard at the moment financially but it’s a position where we groundshare and it comes down to cost,” Brodie continued detailing the struggles he has faced in the immediacy of their FA ruling.
“That means less to bring players in and we did absolutely magnificent for what we had, there’s plans to get back to Skem and the chairman is working hard to [make that happen] but he’s in a real difficult position that they’re trying to get out of.
“Selfish or not, I’ve had to make the right decision for myself and whether I had something to walk into or not, it was for my own sanity because I do care.”
With the reprieve, Burscough will remain in the North West Counties Premier Division as they prepare for their first campaign with 24 teams.
Congleton Town, Winsford United and Northwich Victoria have been laterally moved paving the way for a 46-game season for the region’s top-flight at Step Five.
The upcoming season will see playoffs in place for the first time for teams placed second to fifth. Despite their disappointing finish last season, there are plans in place for Burscough as Brodie describes them as a “sleeping giants”.
He continued: “What’s attractive is, and it’s not a dig at Skem United, they’ve got a plan in place for the future. Not just for 12 months but for 18 months, 24 months and further, they’ve got a plan and I was privileged to be given the opportunity.
“I’m one of those people who likes to be around the place so I will be around the place on a regular basis and not just on match or training days.
“We’re trying to get the football club back on the map because it is a sleeping giant of a football club in non-league football, meeting the chairman, owner, director of football and commercial director, they have plans in place. It’s a really exciting in prospect and it’s a completely different, fresh challenge.
“I’ll be honest, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders which is sad because I’ll always have an affinity with Skem, the people there, Les – the kit man – absolutely fantastic, he was also a friend and there’s a reason people have moved on.
“I’m sorry to say that I’ve had to move on for myself but this challenge is so exciting, the conversations over the last few days have been really promising.
“The club have got ambition moving forward to climb the pyramid, we are a bit ahead of us now because of the reprieve – which I’ll probably get slaughtered for because of what I said previously – but the setup, infrastructure and the backing the club is in a good position,” Brodie added.
“We’re 12 months ahead of where we should’ve been because when I accepted the job we were North West Counties Division One North and now we’re in the Premier Division.
“All I can say is the conversations that have been had and that will continue are positive, we’re all striving for the same thing. We all know what we want and are singing from the same hymn sheet is massive in moving the club forward on and off the pitch.”
A second managerial role looms for the Gateshead-born tactician. Plans will undoubtedly be underway to prepare for the upcoming campaign with the registration window opening on July 1.
With positive aspects building off the pitch, Brodie is looking to implement a similar attitude with the Linnets in an opportunity he is relishing.
The 31-year-old said: “My phone has been going mad today with people messaging, for the first time I’ve got a chance at pre-season, to build my own team and build something I’m proud of like I was at Skem.
“I was proud of that group of lads, I’ve had conversations with lads and I’m hoping that they buy into it and I’ll try do it the same way.
“It’s an exciting time, I’m relishing it looking ahead, I’ve not been off the phone with friendlies – we’re a little bit behind everyone else at the moment – but just want to make sure everything is right for the start of the season.
“Hopefully we have a positive season, results and more importantly people of Burscough back through the gates, we’ve got work ongoing at the club house with a bar which will attract more people, let’s get people through the door, have a good season and enjoy it.”