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Promotion not yet on Morsley’s agenda

FRANK COMMENTS: AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley
FRANK COMMENTS: AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley

Mark Morsley believes he can emulate his success at Needham Market with the same blueprint to re-establish AFC Sudbury as the biggest non-league side in Suffolk — but has said he would not want to be promoted this season.

The recently-appointed Yellows manager made a number of bold and frank comments — such as the team he inherited needed to be discarded — during a, at times, heated exchange with fans at a ‘Meet The Manager and Chairman’ evening at the club last Thursday evening.

He explained the reasoning behind the eight recent senior departures, including record appearance holder and long-term captain Sam Clarke, who he said was not as good a player as his signing from Needham Market, midfielder Billy Holland,

But with a team of mainly academy players now auditioning for his future side, ahead of expected summer arrivals, he warned a season where the club had started out by seeking a return to the Bostik League Premier Division under Jamie Godbold — in a campaign where more promotion places have been opened up due to a football pyramid re-organisation — will now be one of transition.

“I have come to this football club to dismantle the first team and re-build from there,” he said.

“I have been given this job as, in all honesty, my CV is one of the best in non-league at rebuilding.

“I have proved that before and I will do it again.

“If you as supporters are looking for short-term fixes and short-term gains, you maybe need to move away for a season and come back because I will get it right here.”

He added: “If we creep in the back door of the play-offs this year, I would say here and now I would not want to go up.

“I would love to get in the play-offs, as it is a bit of excitement, but I have experienced it before and I know that you need to go up when you are ready to go up.”

Morsley explained the way he had previouslt handled things in five years at Needham, where he ditched the entire first-team for youngsters before supplementing them with ‘the right senior players’ to help them along with a few carefully selected ex-professionals, like Kem Izzet and Ian Westlake, was the way he could achieve the ambitious aim set for him, revealed at the meeting, of reaching the National League South within five years.

At Needham, Morsley took the club up to Step Three for the first time before establishing them in the Bostik League Premier Division, and he said: “I will be doing what I did at Needham Market at this football club, but I can do it better here because there is more potential here.”

He also explained academy starlet Tyler French’s new deal was about ‘protecting an asset’ as well as giving him an improved deal to ‘concentrate on his football’.

On captain Sam Clarke’s exit, he revealed the club had an approach from higher-league St Neot’s Town shortly after he took over and, as he saw no long-term future for him, he was willing to let him go. But the 30-year-old decided to stay before later seeking assurances over his future and agreeing it was best that he left.

“As he was in the last season of his contract he later came back to me and said, as he was in the last season of his contract he wanted to have a conversation about his options. And it was a joint decision with Sam and myself that the time maybe right for him to seek regular football somewhere else as I said, if everyone in the building was fit, he would not make the first team.”

He added: “Of course, I respect what he has done here.”

Clarke has signed for higher-league Harlow Town, joining up with fellow ex-AFC players James Baker, Craig Pope and Robbie Martin.

The player who spent almost a decade at Sudbury made his debut for the Premier Division outfit in the 1-0 win over Leiston on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, 17th place Sudbury — who are 10 points off the top six cemented play-off positions and 10 points off the relegation spot, albeit with games in hand on most, host 19th-placed Tilbury on Saturday (3pm) before Morsley’s former club, Needham Market, visit in the Suffolk Premier Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm).

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