Adam Lord: Managerial changes never a recipe for success

New head coach at Lancaster City Darren Peacock.
New head coach at Lancaster City Darren Peacock.

It’s been a difficult season at Giant Axe for a number of reasons, ADAM LORD looks back at a topsy-turvy campaign

Lancaster City’s 2012-2013 season will ultimately be remembered for what happened off the field, rather than performances on it.

Neil Wainwright and Michael Stringfellow.

Neil Wainwright and Michael Stringfellow.

In an Evo-Stik First Division North that was the weakest it has been for years, by rights the Dolly Blues should have been challenging at the sharp end of the league.

But three different managerial teams is never going to be a recipe for success and ultimately turned the latest campaign into one of uncertainty and transition.

A season that started with Tony Hesketh at the helm, went via the joint stewardship of Neil Wainwright and Michael Stringfellow to the unlikely appointment of former Newcastle and Blackburn defender Darren Peacock as head coach.

Popular Hesketh was dismissed in September as he came towards the end of a spell on sick leave after having a hip replacement.

It was a surprise, and quite an ugly departure, that the club took some time to recover from.

Morecambe FC Community Sports duo and Dolly Blues players Wainwright and Stringfellow took over a month later and they will be the first to admit took time to settle.

But that they did, slowly bringing in players such as Darren Green, who has been one of the few bright sparks at Giant Axe this season when at his mercurial best.

An upturn in form meant some fans had one eye on the play-offs but City were soon to encounter another dead end, the joint managers resigning due to budget cuts at the end of February.

Some players had already left when Hesketh did in September, the majority associated with Myerscough College, and then others brought in by his replacements went due to budget cuts, the likes of Aaron Taylor and Jake Simpson.

Down to a minimal squad supported by the club’s under 18 side, the club were then looking for another manager and after flirting with former Morecambe assistant boss Andy Mutch in the first instance plumped for a surprise name in Peacock.

Results on the field largely reflected the instability off it.

A 5-0 loss at home to Ramsbottom United in December, a roller coaster 4-3 loss to Bamber Bridge on Boxing Day and shipping three goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 Ossett Albion in March at Giant Axe were just three of the forgettable days for the Dolly Blues’s fans who maintained their reputation for following their side through thick and thin from Goole to Clitheroe and everywhere in between.

Even down to the 4-3 victory at Garforth in their penultimate game of the season, City rarely failed to entertain but too often came out of the wrong side of unnecessarily helter-skelter tussles.

This gung ho approach is something former pony-tailed central defender Peacock was used to in his time at Newcastle under Kevin Keegan.

He’s however quickly dismissed any notion his City side will play like the man he still refers to as “the gaffer”.

The 45-year-old instead looks to his time at Queens Park Rangers under Gerry Francis, a man who worked tirelessly on keeping the door shut at the back.

Peacock has made a strong case for the defence and will looking for things both on and off the to be a little more mundane next time around.