TOMMY Brookbanks has revealed he was a whisker away from walking out on Hucknall Town — before he realised he couldn’t desert his “dream job”.
Now he sees the immediate future as “a golden opportunity to get the club back on its feet”.
Brookbanks suffered the worst moment of his footballing career when Town were relegated from the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division last month at the end of his first season at Watnall Road.
The drop was followed by bombshell news that the club owed up to £75,000 in VAT. And with Town on their knees, the 44-year-old manager admits he was on the brink of joining Belper Town where businessman Vaughan Williams, a close friend, had just taken the reins. He even had an interview with Williams lined up last Friday.
However he knocked it on the head after being overwhelmed by the backing he received from Hucknall fans.
“Their support was what swayed me,” said Brookbanks.
“They fully understood the situation and were behind Gary Stones (assistant) and myself 100%.
“Everything was up in the air, with the possibility of moving to Belper. But with all that support, even after relegation, I knew I had to carry on.
“Belper is a great, well-run club and a lovely town.
“But it is not our town. We have no affinity with Belper.
“I wasn’t born in Hucknall but my wife’s family are Hucknall and Gary is Hucknall through and through.
“I started managing in the Notts Alliance. After all the success at Carlton Town, I felt I deserved a crack at managing Hucknall. It was my dream job.
“It’s such a shame that when my chance came, the club was in such a mess.
“But I still really want to manage Hucknall Town.
“I want to make a difference to the club and the town.
“I want to make the club correct and right, and self-sufficient, so that we never have to go through a season like this one again.”
Brookbanks’s plans for next season, both on and off the field, are already under way.
Although he has been told his playing budget must be trimmed to only £500 per week, he is hoping to swell the coffers by organising a series of fundraising initiatives through the summer and persuading loocal businesses to back the club.
“I have already had a good meeting with one of our main sponsors, Doff Portland, “ said Brookbanks. “We spoke about the club’s youth set-up, which they feel is very important.
“We have also printed leaflets, giving details of how businesses can support us through advertising boards at the ground, match sponsorship and kit sponsorship.
“And I would appeal to anyone who thinks they might be able to help us with fundraising events, maybe on a commission basis, to get in touch. They can ring me on 07869 150107.”
Brookbanks is also appealing to supporters to help with a project to give the club’s Watnall Road ground a much-needed makeover during the summer.
“The ground badly needs doing up,” he said. “We will be doing work on it for two or three hours every Saturday morning.”
On the field, revenue should be generated by a series of pre-season friendlies during July and August.
Notts County have already agreed to send a team to play Town at Watnall Road on Saturday July 2, while games against Nottingham Forest, Mansfield Town, FC United Of Manchester and Evo-Stik League champions FC Halifax Town have been lined up as possibles.
Brookbanks also revealed that “95% of last season’s players have confirmed that they are staying at the club next season — even on the revised budget”.
The one notable exception is defender Martin Ball, who has received offers from several clubs, including Worksop Town and Chasetown.
“The support of the players has been brilliant and very positive,” said Brookbanks.
“They all want to get the club vack up. The majority of them will all be good enough for Division One South. It’s just a question of adding four or five, and I have some names in mind.”
Brookbanks is well aware that the club still has several financial hurdles to overcome in the next few weeks.
But he added: “If we can get through this summer, we should have a good club for next season when we can start sorting things out properly again.”