Former boss Burr saddened by Hucknall Town’s plight

MAGICAL MEMORIES -- Steve Burr (left) celebrates Hucknall Town's Unibond League title triumph in 2004 with the club's former secretary, Brian Scothern.
MAGICAL MEMORIES -- Steve Burr (left) celebrates Hucknall Town's Unibond League title triumph in 2004 with the club's former secretary, Brian Scothern.

AS Hucknall Town nosedive towards another relegation, the manager who masterminded their greatest season is sitting proudly on top of the non-league pile.

The contrast between the fortunes of Town and Steve Burr since they won the Unibond Northern Premier League, Premier Division title together nine years ago is stark.

For while The Yellows are heading out of the league altogether, Burr is in charge of Kidderminster Harriers, who completed the Easter programme at the head the Blue Square Bet Premier (Conference) table.

Now the 50-year-old boss has taken time out to express his sadness at his former club’s dramatic decline.

“It’s such a shame the way things have turned out at Hucknall,” said Burr this week as he prepared for Kidderminster’s latest victory at Luton Town.

“I still keep a lookout for Hucknall’s results. But when you look back to the year we won the league, you never know where it might have taken us if the ground had been up to scratch.”

Led by Burr and his sidekick Peter Wragg, Town romped to the Unibond championship by nine points in their one and only season at the club -- 2003/04.

But their Watnall Road ground was not good enough to earn promotion to the top division of the Conference. Instead they had to switch to the newly-formed Conference North, and a frustrated Burr quit to join Northwich Victoria

The Yellows went on to reach the FA Trophy final 12 months later under the management of Dean Barrick, one of the many players Burr brought to Watnall Road.

But it wasn’t long before the glory days had gone. Now Town are an amateur club riddled with debt. Two more defeats over the Easter weekend all but condemned them to the drop from Division One South of the Evo-Stik (formerly Unibond) League -- their third relegation in five seasons and their fifth bottom-four finish in six seasons.

“I have no regrets,” says Burr. “I enjoyed my season at Hucknall. But the opportunity arose to manage in the top division of the Conference at Northwich.

“I still keep in touch with Brian Holmes and one or two of the players, such as Gary Ricketts, Stuart Nelson and Jon McCarthy.

“Brian Scothern has also been to see a couple of Kidderminster games. Brian was a great secretary and a great guy. One of the top men I have worked with at all the clubs in my career.

“I don’t see Dean Barrick, but I suspect he’s on a desert island somewhere lying on a hammock!

“Maybe one day we can have a reunion and get the lads back to the club to generate some money.”

After leaving Northwich in 2007, Burr had a spell at Stalybridge Celtic before joining Kidderminster in January 2010.

Kiddy dropped out of the Football League in 2005, having been promoted five years earlier under former Liverpool legend Jan Molby.

But with three games to play this term, they have been clinging to top spot in the Conference, just ahead, ironically, of one of Hucknall’s near-neighbours, Mansfield Town.

Both sides have enjoyed amazing sprees, with Burr’s side winning 13 of their last 15 matches. All this after a disastrous start to the season when they lost their opening five and drew the next five!

“We are going great guns but the title is still Mansfield’s to throw away,” said Burr.

“It’s just nice that we have given ourselves a chance. We are a full-time club but we don’t have a rich benefactor and our budget is nowhere near as big as Mansfield’s and those of other clubs.”

For a manager with such a fine track-record, Burr admits he is frustrated not to have been given a crack at managing in the Football League.

“It is a big ambition of mine, but it looks like my only chance is to get a club up there myself,” he said.

“To get Kiddy into the Football League would be a fantastic achievement.”