Skelmersdale United manager Richard Brodie has been defiant in his response to their demotion from the Northern Premier League West.
Despite finishing 11th, Skem failed ground gradings for the upcoming season, following their groundshare with Burscough, and have subsequently been relegated from the league.
The news came on Wednesday night in what many had been fearing after murmurs gathered momentum in the build-up to the conclusion of the league campaign.
During the campaign, Brodie’s side steered away from the relegation zone following the departure of Paul McNally who took up the role as City of Liverpool manager.
Between February and mid-March a five-match winning run saw them move out of the danger zone to mid-table.
But now, they face life in North West Counties Premier Division again after one season in Step Four. Brodie passionately expressed his disdain at the decision and said speaking to Off The Park: “Deflated, upset, angry as anyone who knows me would tell you, I’m very passionate about what I do, I’m a winner.
“At the end of the day, I got asked to do a job and to keep the club in the division with the lowest budget, it’s no coincidence that the teams with the next two lowest budgets finished bottom and second bottom so as far as I’m concerned and the players, we’ve done our job.
“We can’t affect what’s happened, it’s disappointing, you finish 11th when you’re asked to finish fifth bottom then due to other circumstances out of our control you get relegated.
“There’s a lot of people at the football club who have worked hard to get themselves in the right place but they’re in a position where its in transition, I will stick up for them to a certain degree because they have tried to do the right thing but it’s not come off. Non-league football isn’t easy at the best of times but it is a tough pill to swallow.”
They earned promotion via the playoffs at the end of the 2021/22 season as they romped past Cinderford Town in the inter-step playoff.
However, their original home ground JMO Sports Park failed a FIFA bounce test which put their promotion hopes in jeopardy. As a result, they had to seek a temporary home which eventually became Burscough FC’s Community Ground Stadium.
With no apparent change to the circumstances, it was ruled they failed ground gradings and despite their appeal, it was upheld meaning they will now prepare for life in the division below.
“I feel like if I had my two kids and we built a lego house and a dog come through and stood on it, that’s what I feel like,” Brodie added. “I’ve got nothing but praise for the staff and even more so the players who have been absolutely outstanding, the dressing room is top drawer.
“I can’t fault any of them in any way because they’ve stepped up to the plate especially when first and foremost you’ve got the old manager taking players every month that have to be replaced, it’s been upsetting, unsettling, I feel that the football club getting into the division, finishing where we have and off the field things have caused us to go down.
“I would say Gordon [Johnson] the chairman is trying to go through things the right way, get things in place, we’ll get there hopefully and eventually.”
With the subsequent ruling, Widnes were handed a reprieve. Michael Ellison’s side finished in the first relegation playoff spot above Glossop North End with Colne and Ramsbottom United relegated automatically.
But Brodie has vowed to be at the forefront of the rebuild at Skelmersdale United amid their uncertainty.
He added: “Moving forward there will be people laughing at us, congratulating Widnes – which I find absolutely mindboggling.
“People are sending messages saying ‘well done’, listen I like Ello and he has done a good job because where they were when I got the Skem job, they were dead and buried so they have done a good job but ultimately, if you’re in the bottom four or three whatever division you play in after 38 games, you deserve to get relegated.
“Yes they’ve stayed up and good luck to Ello because I do genuinely like him but everyone’s getting a well done, where’s my well done? Where’s my well done for finishing 11th in a division with the lowest budget in the club’s first time in the division?
“There will be people laughing, clapping their hands but I wasn’t the best player but what I did have was balls, when the chips were down or we were having a bad time, I’d step up to the plate and work hard and that’s what I’ll do.
“I’m not hiding the fact that I want to work higher and I’m not stopping players from going higher, if you look at what happens over the next couple of weeks, you’ll see a couple of our players will go higher and thoroughly deserved.
“Of course I want to work higher but the easier thing to do for me would be to walk away. Is it the easy way out? Yeah but I’m not walking away from anything, I’ll sit down, we’ve had conversations, I’ll try and rebuild the club again, how long the club give me I don’t know.
“But as far as I’m concerned, I’ll give it a right good go. I’ve been on the phone for the last six days but I couldn’t contact players until I know what was happening but I’m not a quitter. I’ll give it a bash, if I fail I’ll do it giving it my best.”
With the verdict still setting in at Skem, their focus turns to the North West Counties. With changes to the football pyramid, they will now join the league in its first season of having playoffs between second and fifth.
Affirming his position as manager, the former York City and Southport striker insists he isn’t a quitter.
He said: “When the finances and if the finances are there I want to get straight back up, I believe there is going to be playoffs in the Counties and it’s not the league I want to be in, that’s not being disrespectful, it’s going to be a really tough division.
“As I’ve done in the division above, I’ll try build a squad that’s ready for the challenge and I’ll do my utmost best. I will stick by the club until I’m told otherwise, at this moment of time, there will be tough times but you learn from them and move on.
“It’d be dead easy to walk away, there will be people thinking I will and there’s been comments but I’m made of strong stuff and I’ll make sure I have a team next season who’s made of strong stuff, we’ll have a right good go.”