Woodbridge Town is lucky to still be in existence, says manager

Mark Scopes

Mark Scopes - Credit: Archant

They may be the whipping boys of the division, but Woodbridge Town manager Mark Scopes has told disgruntled committee members and fans ‘you’re lucky to still have a club’.

The Woodpeckers appeared to be on an upward trajectory following Scopes’ appointment as boss four years ago, finishing 10th and then sixth in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.

Last season the wheels fell off though as some severe cash flow issues came to light, the club limping to a 15th place finish following a period in which players weren’t paid.

Chairman John Beecroft has since taken over the financial running of the club and stabilised the situation, but the result is that none of the backroom staff – including Scopes – are taking a wage, with the playing budget slashed to an absolute minimum.

Several key players departed in the summer as a result, and with an outfit populated almost exclusively from the youth set-up having lost the opening eight league games - the goal difference already at a dismal 29.

“The club was in big, big trouble at the end of last season,” said Scopes. “I think some of the committee members and spectators are ignorant to just how bad things got.

“They think Woodbridge should be this great club, but the fact of the matter is we are fortunate to still have the club at all. Some people thought last year was just a hiccup, but the ripples that emerged have been bigger than most actually understand.

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“Ryan Stafford went to Hadleigh, Kelsey Trotter went to Diss, while Mark Roper was one of several players that decided to drop down a few levels. You can’t blame them when there are teams at steps six and seven paying more than we are.

“How can I ask someone not to work on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or get double time on a Saturday?”

Having suffered heavy defeats to the likes of CRC, Walsham and Brantham, Scopes’ side host Haverhill Rovers tomorrow afternoon.

Their cause is not helped by the fact that keeper Dan Spink and new Needham Market loanee Mat Poxon are both out injured.

In addition, veteran skipper Paul Berry has just been told that, having missed most of last season with a troublesome hip injury, he is unlikely to play much football again this campaign.

“I’m not one to bemoan my luck, it is what it is and we’ve just got to get on with it,” said Scopes.

“It’s going to be hard with two hands tied behind my back, but this club has got a fantastic youth set-up and hopefully I’ll be able to convince some bit-part players at other clubs to come in on loan and help the younger ones out.

“The plan was always to get through the first two months of the season with damage limitation and see which of our youngsters could step up to first team football.”

He added: “These are really difficult times, but I’ve been at this club a long time. Before I became manager I was reserve team manager and before that I coached my son’s youth team, so I’ve got a lot of affection for this club and I’m not going to just walk away.

“At the moment we’ve just got to look at performances. If we lose by three or four, we’ve just got to focus on the positives from the game and try and build on those.

“When I took this job four years ago we were in a similar position with a small squad and I was able to build something. Now we’re back to square one and we’ve got to do the same again.”