TOMMY Brookbanks this week vowed to stay with Hucknall Town amid concern that he could be tempted by vacancies at a cluster of neighbouring semi-professional clubs.
The rumour-mill cranked into overtime when the manager’s job at Belper Town became available after the resignation of former West Ham United defender Tommy Taylor.
The chairman at Belper, one of Hucknall’s rivals in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South, is businessman Vaughan Williams, who is Brookbanks’s best friend.
The Hucknall boss refused to comment on whether he had been offered the post. But he insisted: “I am not interested.
“I am determined to see the job through at Hucknall. The lads have been loyal to me and I am sure there are good times ahead.
“The club has been in the doldrums since the FA Trophy final at Villa Park in 2005. But I believe this is the start of the revival. It would be foolish to walk away now.”
Despite Hucknall’s relegation last season, the stock of Brookbanks remains high on the non-league circuit — because of what he achieved at little Carlton Town, guiding them from the old Notts Senior League to the Evo-Stik.
And after The Yellows’ decision to go amateur because of their financial woes, he is sure to be considered in many boardrooms as an easy target.
Although he has two years of a contract to serve at Watnall Road, the terms of that deal are hardly being met after Brookbanks’s promise to waive his £300-a-week salary.
Another managerial vacancy to arise this week is that at Worksop Town, where defender Martin McIntosh has been sacked.
And there could soon be an opening at Eastwood Town, where the reign of former Hucknall coach Jamie Brough, who bought the club for just £1 in the summer, has hit its first crisis with the mysterious resignation of his managerial sidekick Craig Armstrong and chief executive Neil Vanderwalt.
However Brookbanks appears hell-bent on making amends for last season’s disaster and turning Hucknall round.
“This is the job I wanted,” he said this week.
“OK, I am not getting paid at the moment but if I don’t see this job through, who will?
“I made a lot of mistakes last season. Because of the financial problems, I took my finger off the pulse and spent too much time in the boardroom.
“I will never do that again. I am hands-on now and with the players all the time.”
Brookbanks is full of praise for those players so far this season and says he saw little to get downhearted about in the FA Cup defeat at Matlock Town last Saturday.
“We put up a good fight against a strong side who I think will be in the Premier Division play-offs at the end of the season.
“They have good players who move the ball about well on their big pitch, so we set our stall out not to concede in the first half.
“It all worked perfectly until their left-back beat about five men and scored a ‘worldy’ goal early in the second half.
“It was always going to take something like that because we are defending very well at the moment.
“The only part of our plan that went wrong was missing a couple of golden chances. In games like this, you have to take the chances that come your way.
“But all in all, I had no complaints. The lads gave their all. It’s just a pity we didn’t get better luck with the draw.”
Brookbanks disclosed that he could soon be looking to strengthen his frontline, given that both Phil Massingham and Nick Ghislanzoni are suspended.
Ghislanzoni has already been sent off twice this term — against Rainworth Miners Welfare and Holbeach United — and still has five games of his ban to sit out.
However Kieren Watson, who was cup-tied for the trip to Matlock, is back for Hucknall’s return to league action tomorrow (Saturday) at Kidsgrove Athletic, who are based in Stoke-on-Trent.
“They don’t play like Stoke!” Brookbanks was in a rush to point out. “They are a nice, attractive footballing side.”
After Kidsgrove, The Yellows face another away game in the First Round of the Evo-Stik League Cup next Tuesday night when they tackle divisional rivals, Loughborough Dynamo.
Brookbanks says he will be treating the tie “like any other game” but admits he will probably give outings to players who have been on the fringes of his squad in the opening weeks of the season.
“My main concern at the moment is injuries,” he says. “We can’t afford to pick up any.”