Lee Baker’s tribute to Garstang chairman after leaving the Riversiders

Lee Baker has paid tribute to Garstang chairman Adrian Wilding following his decision to step down as the Riversiders’ boss.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 7:00 am
Garstang celebrate winning the 2017/18 West Lancashire League Premier Division title

Baker tendered his resignation 24 hours after the final day of the Hallmark Security League First Division North campaign at the end of April.

It came out of the blue considering he had steered them to seventh place in their first season in the former North West Counties League.

“There’s no problem between myself and Adrian,” Baker said.

“He’s been brilliant for me as a chairman and he’s the best man for Garstang to sustain themselves at North West Counties level.

“Maybe it needed a new manager to freshen it up and rejig a few things; I’d been there almost five years.

“We’d got to the end of the season, and as clubs do, you weigh things up and where you’re going.

“I always said I didn’t want to be a manager who made up the numbers, and without going too much into it, the budget and other stuff wasn’t what we needed to go forward.

“At West Lancashire League level, you play 35 or 40 games at most but last season we played 50 games on the same budget.

“The commonsense thing is to put more into your budget like the club have – but I worked it out and I couldn’t add any extra to my squad.

“Some people will look at that and think that’s me asking for too much but it wasn’t; I was asking to be at the top end rather than the bottom end.

“Garstang have made the right decision to be sustainable but for what we had in place, we felt it wasn’t strong enough to mount a challenge.

“If we had been able to add three or four more to it, we would have made a challenge.”

The silence in the immediate aftermath of Baker’s departure raised more questions than answers as to the reason for his departure as manager.

Club director David Graham told the Courier last week he thought it was because Baker was unable to replace his former assistant Neil Beesley.

However, Baker insisted that wasn’t the case as he eyes a return to football at some point in the future.

“My decision wasn’t because I couldn’t find another assistant,” he said.

“I had a couple of people who were coming in to help me; I was ready to go but we all kind of knew we weren’t going to achieve what we had this season.

“I want to say a massive thanks to people like Neil because he never got the thanks he should have been given.

“We got the club to four cup finals, a league and cup double, promotion to semi-professional football and two cup quarter-finals this season so it wasn’t bad!

“I loved my time at Garstang but all good things come to an end at some point.

“I think the club will go forward because they have got good backing and a good committee – but I’m quite happy not having to ring players and worry about pre-season at the moment!”