Bootle manager Steve McNulty has explained the situation surrounding Ben Hodkinson’s shock departure.
The Bucks top goalscorer completed a move to Northern Premier League club Marine on Thursday after submitting a transfer request earlier in the week.
Following their 1-0 win away at Workington on Saturday an incident is said to have ensured the final breakdown in the relationship between player and manager.
Following interest from clubs around the North West and Northern Premier League, a deal was struck with Neil Young’s side bringing an end to Hodkinson’s time at Vesty Road.
“It’s common knowledge we all had a few drinks after a great win on Saturday, a bit of banter, he thought it crossed the line,” McNulty told Off The Park. “I’ve apologised for that but unfortunately Ben didn’t accept.
“Ben had approached me the Thursday before the Macclesfield match and said he was thinking maybe time for a new challenge and wanted guarantees he will play and start games but no player is bigger than the club. I won’t guarantee any player that no matter who they are, what division they’ve come from, how long they’ve been at the club – it’s not the way I work,” he continued.
“I told him he was in my plans, I wanted him to stay, I didn’t want him to leave, we resolved that on the Thursday and he stayed for a couple of weeks but after Saturday he submitted the a transfer request.
“I didn’t want him to leave, he was a part of what we wanted to do, he’s a good player and a great lad. From the games he’s been available for, he started 21, made 3 appearances from the bench and was unused once so as far as that goes, I can’t be any fairer or straight with that – people have obviously made their minds up there’s nothing I can do with that and wish him all the best.”
The question remains whether the Bucks will use funds raised from the undisclosed move to bolster their attacking options after losing the attacker who scored 36 goals in all competitions in just over a season and a half.
McNulty revealed that they will look to improve the squad but only with the right options, he said:”It is always disappointing to lose a player of like Ben, he is a big fans favourite and a really good player, as I said before there will never be any guarantees, he’s took it on himself to leave so I’ll never keep a player at the club who doesn’t want to be here.
“If that how he feels, then that’s how he feels, he’ll have a lot of clubs interested because he’s a good player but it’s disappointing to lose your top goalscorer, it’s something we’ll try to replace, we’re always looking to recruit but only if they’re going to improve the squad and better than what we’ve got in to progress the club.”
Bootle continued their impressive away run this season and added the scalp of Danny Grainger’s side to their list of achievements this season. Earlier in the campaign, the Bucks came from behind to beat runaway leaders Macclesfield thanks to a brace from Hodkinson.
McNulty insisted pre-match that his side were not going to be pushovers and sit back despite the difference in league position.
“I’ll always go into game to win them, I’ll never sit back, you go into games and sometimes your gameplan does change,” he reaffirmed, praising his side for their showing and implementing the gameplan. “We’ll never go in to sit back and defend a 0-0, we’ll always going in to score goals and we’ll be going in looking to score goals.
“We went in with a gameplan on Saturday and it worked, the lads executed it to a tee so all credit to them, we only gave them a gameplan, you have to go out and execute it and they did that. Players have got to take all the credit for the three points and I thought we were unlucky not to beat them with a bigger margin, I thought.
“People might think I’m a bit mad and deluded to say it but I keep to saying to this group of lads, we can get out of this season what we want to get out of it,” he said discussing their ambitions with the countdown to the end of the season ticking. “We’re not looking below us, we’re looking ahead, we go into every game looking to win it and we’ve been on a decent run, the only gripe in the run is that we were drawing too many games, weren’t taking our chances in some of them so we went there Saturday got the win.
“We’re only looking up, we’ve got a last run of games until the end of the season, we’re going to give it our best and see where we finish in the league.
“As I say, the lads have been great since we’ve been in so all credit to them, we asked them to go do something Saturday, they did it. I thought we looked dangerous on the break as well and I thought we should’ve won by a bigger margin than what we did, they’re a good side, they’re going to be in the mix at the end of the season, it just shows that when we are on our day and they do the things we ask them to do, the basics right, we’re more than a match for anyone and can compete with anyone.
“We’re looking up the table, not down so it’s a game that we need to go into and we need to win,” McNulty said previewing their home clash with Newcastle Town.
“It’s pointless going to a tough place like Workington on Saturday, winning there and not coming to our home pitch and backing it up. It’s important we go in to it full of confidence, play how we did against Workington. We’re more than a match for anyone and we’ll be going in to get three points.
“It’s important [to win at home], as I say you’re going to a tough place like Workington who are third in the league and beating them. It’s pointless going there, working so hard, get the three points and not backing it up home or away, fortunately we’re at home in front of our fans so we need to put a performance on for them and get the three points.”