ANGRY Hucknall Town are involved in a war of words with their former coach amid claims that he breached an agreement not to poach Yellows players.
Jamie Brough (34), who is the new joint boss of high-ranking Eastwood Town, has been accused of “stabbing Town in the back”.
And in a fresh setback this week, The Yellows have failed to land at least one new signing they had previously announced. Defender Dean Whiley has opted to stay with Long Eaton United after receiving a better financial offer, while teammate Martin Bowles is also having second thoughts about joining Town.
Brough (34) caused a minor sensation last month when buying beleaguered Eastwood, who had been put on the market for just £1 after the resignations of former owner Rob Yong and manager Paul Cox.
He then installed himself as joint manager, alongside the former Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town and Mansfield Town defender Craig Armstrong.
Brough left Watnall Road with the best wishes of Hucknall. But manager Tommy Brookbanks says they entered into a gentleman’s agreement that the coach would not return to Watnall Road in search of new signings for Eastwood.
Now they have fallen out after Brough targeted two of The Yellows’ most prized assets — goalkeeper Ross Whalin and midfielder Josh Burge.
Whalin, who was the fans’ player of the year last season, has since changed his mind and opted to join Long Eaton in the Northern Counties East League, Premier Division, rather than The Badgers.
But Burge, who has often been referred to by Brookbanks as “the best player we’ve got”, has agreed a deal to move to Coronation Park and chance his arm in Blue Square North football.
“I am very disappointed with Jamie,” says the Hucknall chief.
“He said he wouldn’t come back here looking for players. I thought he would have had more respect for his hometown club, especially the situation we have been left in.
“While he left, Gary Stones and myself stayed on to fight for the club’s future. I’d have thought Jamie would have respected my wishes.
“I gave Jamie his first job in football as a coach with Carlton Town Reserves. As well as Ross and Josh, he even tried to take our physio, Stuart Scott, with him.
“It’s breathtaking. You’d hope a local lad would have left us alone. Jamie needs to be careful the way he treats people on the way up in this game because it’s a long fall down.”
Brookbanks’s views were echoed by his assistant, Stones, who said: “We entrusted Jamie with a lot of responsibility last year and tried to help groom him for bigger and better things.
“Now he has stabbed us in the back.
“He gave us his word he wouldn’t come back for players. In this game, you have to have contacts and if you start burning bridges, then you make it very hard for yourself. He has not started off on a good footing.”
Brough, who lives in Hucknall, strenuously denied that any formal agreement was forged and insisted he had done nothing wrong.
“I don’t want to get into a slanging-match but I didn’t make any promises and I certainly didn’t approach Ross,” Brough said.
“It is very rare for a manager to move from one club to another and not take players.
“You can never say never in football. I am just doing my best to make Eastwood a successful team.
“I find the comments very unprofessional and I think everyone should just get on with their jobs.”
The loss of Burge and Whalin, combined with the U-turns of Whiley and Bowles, represent massive blows to Brookbanks and Stones as they try to rebuild The Yellows after relegation from the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division last term.
Striker Tyeisse ‘TJ’ Nightingale and defender Grant Brindley have also left, while doubts linger about Dion Chambers and Fabian Smith.
However the managers remain confident of assembling a squad that “will excite the Hucknall public”, even though their financial plight (SEE FRONT PAGE) means they cannot hope to match other non-league clubs in the area for wages.
Goalkeeeper James Lindley and striker Phil Massingham have been confirmed as new recruits. And seven other youngsters, all of whom have spent time at either Nottingham Forest or Notts County, have signed on the dotted line too.
They are 19-year-old defender Kieron Walker, 21-year-old winger Nathan Watson, 20-year-old striker Theo Ganderson, 20-year-old midfielder Daniel Elliott, 20-year-old striker Ryan Whitehurst, 20-year-old winger Max Wright and 21-year-old centre-back Romaine Graham.
Town have also had an enquiry from 25-year-old midfielder Steve Hargreaves, who had spells with Crystal Palace and Reading.
Players definitely committed to staying are: David Boafo, James Jepson, Martin Ball, Wayne Diuk, Callum Lloyd, Dean Gent, Joe Pheasant, Jared Holmes, Joel Goodacre, Grant Ryan, Anthony Griffith-Junior and Mathieu Isamene.