AFC Sudbury and non-league football fans have reacted with bemusement to the timing of AFC Sudbury’s decision to sack manager Jamie Godbold and his assistant Andy Reynolds.
The news emerged barely an hour after supporters had clapped and cheered Godbold and his players off the pitch after recording their first league victory of the season ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup game at the same venue.
The Lowestoft Town playing legend took charge of The Yellows in January 2015 and in his first full season at the helm he guided the club to promotion up to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the first time in their history.
However, despite making a positive start to life at Step Three, a poor run of form in the second half of the 2016/17 campaign saw Sudbury relegated.
The majority of the squad departed during the summer, forcing Godbold to recruit a number of new faces ahead of their return to Division One North football.
They progressed through two rounds in the Emirates FA Cup, but wins in the league had been hard to come by. Just one point was collected from a possible 12 and although AFC broke their duck with a 3-0 victory over Brentwood Town on Tuesday evening, the board have opted to make a change, with academy chief Danny Laws put in temporary charge.
On Twitter there appeared to be a consensus that the pair should have been given more time to fulfil the club’s ambitions, especially after the first victory had been achieved.
Club volunteer Louis Byers wrote: “Gutted to hear, especially after the win last night. Both nice guys, and I’m disappointed that they didn’t get more time. Best of luck to them.”
TheElmo543 wrote: “Poor decision by the board. Appreciate last season was a disappointment but to sack them after five games... Their history of results and everything achieved by them with the club and playing budge has shown they could have done a job and got us back up.
“Should have been three game target after last night’s win and then reassess after that. Last night was a ‘must-win’ game, which they answered easily.”
Geoff Mills, father of forward Adam, said: “Difficult decision for the club — would have liked them to have had a bit more time given it’s a totally new squad — but that’s football.”
Richard Wales said: “Strange decision. It was always going to be a slow start after the turnover of players. Nothing to gain by this decision.”
Matt Smith wrote: “Bit of a shock after winning last night, thought he may of been given a few more games!”
But Chris Gurton said the decision should have some perspective to it.
“I’m surprised after last night’s performance, but that was only the fifth league win since Christmas, and how long do you them? With new league structure this season is the best chance of getting promoted again and a slow start could be costly.
“That said, they were a good pair and always did their best for the club and fans and I wish them both the very best for the future.”
And Derek Yallop wrote: “Should probably have been done in February or March. Was obvious the club was heading for relegation. Nice guys but tactically lacking.”
Lynsey McCarthy disagreed though.
She wrote: “Should have been given more of a chance considering it’s almost an entirely new line-up, OR let go before season started, poor timing by board.
“Gutted as they actually recognised and appreciated all the volunteers. Genuinely lovely people, their next club will be very lucky to have them.”
Former Wroxham and Gorleston manager Stewart Larter said: “Bought massive success to an underachieving club — massive changes in the summer on the playing side always takes time — two good guys.”
Chairman Philip Turner released a statement through the club’s website which read: “AFC Sudbury Board of Directors have decided that it is in the best interest of the club to relieve the First Team management of their duties with immediate effect.
“The club would like to put on record their thanks to Jamie Godbold (pictured) and Andy Reynolds for the tireless hours they have put into the club over the past couple of years. “This period saw the first team promoted to the Isthmian Premier League for the first time in its history.
“However, following relegation and a poor start to the current season, the Board felt a change was necessary.
“I am delighted to announce that Danny Laws has agreed to take over as Caretaker Manager of the first team whilst the club considers its options.
“Laws will remain in charge of the club’s Academy where he will continue to be supported by Dave Cannon, Craig Power, Mike Ford, Gavin Peters and Ian Miller. No further statement will be issued at this time.”
A Jason Hallett hat-trick condemned AFC Sudbury to their third straight league defeat at Cheshunt on Saturday, with Adam Mills having given them a 14th minute lead. Sam Clarke, on his record breaking 377th club appearance, fired in what turned out to be a consolation goal from the penalty spot.
*AFC Sudbury Ladies are down to the bare bones for their SEE Women’s FA Cup Second Qualifying Round tie at Frontiers from Harlow on Sunday.
Emma Squirel, Phoebe Guiver and Harriet Young (broke nose) all picked up injuries in the weekend’s 5-2 league defeat at Writtle, which had seen Megan Partridge pull two goals back in the second half.
*AFC Sudbury Under-18s got their FA Youth Cup off to a flying start with an 8-1 home demolition of King’s Lynn Town last Thursday. They will now face Ipswich Wanderers away in the next round.