Boss Brookbanks pledges to revive Town

HUCKNALL Town boss Tommy Brookbanks says he is determined to preserve football at Watnall Road, whatever the state of the club's finances
HUCKNALL Town boss Tommy Brookbanks says he is determined to preserve football at Watnall Road, whatever the state of the club's finances

AS the long wait to hear from the VAT man goes on, manager Tommy Brookbanks has vowed to revive Hucknall Town — whatever happens to their finances.

Brookbanks has also scotched fears that Town might even have to drop into a lower league next season to continue functioning.

“We will not let the club go,” he declared this week. “It would have been so easy to walk away but we are determined to turn things round.”

However he divulged that, after relegation from the Evo-Stik League’s Premier Division, The Yellows have lost at least one star player in goalkeeper Ross Whalin, who has joined local rivals, Eastwood Town.

Striker Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale is also on the verge of quitting after failing to respond to a new offer. Defender Grant Brindley has switched to divisional rivals, Grantham Town, and former professional winger Tris Whitman has left the club by mutual consent.

Doubts remain about the futures of Fabian Smith, who has yet to commit himself, and cultured midfielder Dion Chambers, who could be moving to London to attend university.

However 23-year-old defender Martin Ball, who won two player-of-the-year awards last term, has promised to stay, with Brookbanks stressing how important it was to keep him.

Town are living on a knife-edge at the moment as they await a response from HM Revenue And Customs (HMRC) to the club’s offer to pay £50,000 of their unpaid VAT bill which, in total, amounts to up to £75,000.

The money would be covered by a loan from their ground-owners, Welbeck Estates, which would be repaid through a shares scheme into which several club officials and supporters have already promised to buy. This, in turn, would convert the club into a limited company.

“We are currently working on the scenario that the offer will be accepted,” says Brookbanks.

“However, even if we have to pay back every penny, we will continue to operate at the same level (Evo-Stik League, Division One South). If HMRC say no, we will work round the clock to pay them back as quickly as possible.

“I think we deserve a bit of credit because some clubs, rather than rectify their mistakes, have walked away and had a season out.

“We acknowledge our debt and we are trying to tackle it.”

Town are working overtime at present in a bid to erase their problems, on and off the field, which resulted in a disastrous 2010/11 season.

On the playing front, many of last season’s squad have signed again, most notably Ball, Josh Burge, Jared Holmes, David Boafo, Anthony Griffith Junior, Dean Gent, Wayne Diuk, James Jepson, Grant Ryan, Callum Lloyd, Joe Pheasant and Joel Goodacre.

And they have been supplemented by four new signings so far in 28-year-old centre-back Dean Whiley and 22-year-old midfielder Martin Bowles from Long Eaton United (Northern Counties East League, Premier Division), 29-year-old striker Phil Massingham from Radcliffe Olympic (East Midlands Counties League) and 27-year-old former Notts County goalkeeper James Lindley, who returns for his second spell at the club from Glapwell, who have gone bust.

“We have been after Dean for some time,” said Brookbanks. “He is a very exciting signing.

“Martin will also be a good asset. He is strong, good on the ball and has leadership qualities.

“Phil is the kind of striker we have been lacking — a big, strong 6’2” targetman. And James is a great replacement for Ross Whalin. An exceptional talent.”

Meanwhile, in the boardroom, an executive committee has been formed to tackle finances and drive the club forward commercially.

It comprises Brookbanks, his assistant Gary Stones, chief executive Liz Morley, who was appointed last November after the resignation of treasurer Pete Chapman, and former treasurer and long-time supporter Mark Burnell, who is an accountant by profession.

An active new committee member has also been appointed in former Dispatch photographer Brian Pickering, who was secretary of top Hucknall Sunday club Rolls-Royce Celtic for many years.

“We have been speaking to potential sponsors to try and get the playing budget up for next season,” said Brookbanks.

“Supporters have been helping us spruce up the ground. And we have also organised lots of fundraising dos, the first of which is a race night at the Talk Of Town social club next Friday (June 17).

“The players and management will be there and every penny will be going to the tax fund. I would urge fans to support it.

“It’s all go at the moment and very positive — apart from the tax issue. In fact, if it wasn’t for the tax bill, things would be very exciting.”