New Cornard boss Tracey relishing ‘underdogs’ tag

NEW CHALLENGE: New Cornard United manager Chris Tracey, pictured during his last spell in the Thurlow Nunn League, as Diss Town's boss
NEW CHALLENGE: New Cornard United manager Chris Tracey, pictured during his last spell in the Thurlow Nunn League, as Diss Town's boss

Former AFC Sudbury boss Chris Tracey is looking forward to springing a few surprises after taking over the reins at Cornard United.

Tracey takes the vacant managerial seat at Blackhouse Lane following Paul Grainger stepping down due to work commitments.

And ahead of a local derby in the FA Vase first qualifying round at higher-league Long Melford on Saturday (3pm), the man who managed AFC Sudbury for two-and-a-half years from September 2011, is relishing the chance to take unfancied Cornard forward.

“It is a completely different challenge,” he said, having already overseen last Wednesday’s 2-2 home draw with then Thurlow Nunn League First Division leaders Wivenhoe Town and Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to third-placed King’s Lynn Town Reserves.

“At Sudbury and Diss there were massive expectations but everyone sees Cornard as the whipping boys.

“To be fair, Paul has assembled a good squad and they have potential, we just need to get some bodies back and fit and I think we can surprise a few people.”

Tracey, who turned out as a player for Cornard at the age of 43 after leaving his job at Sudbury, who he had captained to two FA Vase finals on the pitch, has named former AFC defender and coach Jack Wignall as his assistant.

“My best spell at Sudbury was when Jack was working with me and when he said yes it made my mind up,” he said.

“It is going to be hard as people have been trying for a while to get it right here and now myself and Jack are going to have a real go.”

And Tracey is looking to cause his first big upset this weekend, when he takes his new side to another of his old clubs in Melford.

He said: “Melford has started off ok this season but anything can happen in a local derby and we have absolutely nothing to lose.

“Obviously I have an affiliation with that competition.

“I will only have been with the players for 10 days but we will see what we can achieve.”

Tracey, who was involved in a player/coach role at Bury St Edmunds-based Suffolk and Ipswich League side Sporting 87 last season after resigning from his position at Diss Town in March 2014, will juggle the role at Cornard with his existing post as Sporting’s new under-18s’ Thurlow Nunn League manager. It will not leave him far to travel though, with Sporting playing their home matches on AFC Sudbury’s 3G pitch this season.

“At Sporting I kept my hand in and enjoyed it,” he said. “I got a bit fitter and got my appetite for football back.”

But while not ruling out playing again at the age of 45, he said the plan is not for Wignall or himself to take to the pitch.