Hucknall Town boss Duncan Russell quits

Duncan Russell, new manager at Hucknall Town FC
Duncan Russell, new manager at Hucknall Town FC

High-profile managers Duncan Russell and Paul Hall have walked out on Hucknall Town before they have picked a team or even signed a player.

Ex-Mansfield Town boss Russell (55) and 1998 World Cup star Hall (41) quit this week after Town confirmed they are to drop two more divisions on the non-League ladder to cut costs.

“I am not willing to go down to that level,” said Russell, who was appointed only six weeks ago. “Paul and I have a bit more to offer than that.

“I was really looking forward to the challenge. But I can’t flog a dead horse. There is no funding available and it would be an impossible job to do.

“To be honest, I don’t know how the club are going to survive. It’s just so sad.”

As exclusively revealed in last week’s Dispatch, The Yellows have resigned from the Northern Counties East League’s (NCEL) Premier Division, to which they were relegated last season.

Instead they are to play in the Central Midlands League’s (CML) South Division, replacing their reserve team, Hucknall Town AFC.

AFC’s current manager, local youth coach Andy Graves, will boss the new first team. His young side finished next to bottom last term, winning only three of their 30 matches.

Most fans who attended an open meeting at the club last Saturday agreed with the decision to downgrade, given the club’s financial crisis.

However, Town are likely to be fined £1,500 for quitting the NCEL’s Premier Division, which is on Step Five of the official non-League pyramid.

They will also be expelled from the FA Cup, for which the early rounds were drawn last week. The CML’s South Division, which is on the bottom rung of the pyramid (Step Seven), is too low to meet the FA Cup entry criteria.

Furthermore, Town will not be allowed to play in the FA Trophy, in which they reached the final only eight years ago. Instead it’s back to the FA Vase.

Town’s chief executive Liz Morley was not available for comment on Russell’s departure.

But Russell, who led Mansfield to Wembley in the Trophy final in 2011, said she was “very apologetic”.

“I said I would have loved the opportunity to do something,” Russell continued. “It was all very amicable and I wished the club all the best.

“But the job was no longer a viable option for me.

“When I was appointed, I was told that some money would be made available, if only to pay players’ expenses.

“But the debts are still there and they need to invest, otherwise they won’t be able to run.

“With the bare minimum finances, we could have just about kept afloat. But then it depends at what level you’re playing.

“It would have been so difficult to get players.”

Russell criticised the way the club has been run in recent years, particularly in the second half of last season when they sleepwalked to relegation.

“More should have been done since Christmas,” Russell said. “But previous managers should also have laid the groundroots.

“The club has no infrastructure and no affiliation to the community, via soccer schools and things like that. So how can they expect the community to invest in the club?

“If Paul and I had been appointed earlier, things might have been different. We had the ideas and the contacts to take the club into the 21st century.”