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BLOG: All change at Ilkeston

Thursday, 16 April 2015 13:08

My first column talking about non-league football in Derbyshire just happens to coincide with some busy goings on at the club I cover home and away, Ilkeston FC writes NLD's Derbyshire writer Mark Duffy

Not only are the Robins firmly in the hunt for a promotion spot, they've also recently been taken over and it was then revealed that manager Kevin Wilson wouldn't have his contract renewed in the summer.

This, of course, raised more than a few eyebrows. Wilson was manager of Ilkeston Town FC when it went bust in 2010 and to his great credit stuck around to play a huge part in the birth, and subsequent success, of Ilkeston FC.

The club's hierarchy have insisted finances have played a big part in Wilson not being retained and that they're keen to appoint a single head coach rather than continue with the current structure that sees Wilson assisted by Steve Chettle.
Some fans are reluctantly accepting that explanation, some think there is much more to it than that.

Whatever the reasons, there is understandable concern amongst the club's supporters given the success Wilson has helped to bring and with the Robins' current league position threatening to add to that. The cries of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' were pretty common once the news emerged.

Ilkeston have gained a high profile with their ethos of bringing young players through their full-time academy, with the likes of Che Adams (Sheffield United) and Ashley Hunter (Fleetwood) having gone on to play regularly in League One this season and four or five others also having progressed into the Football League or Conference Premier. Wilson has been a key part of that.

Therefore, the key to moving forward will have to be in maintaining what works well. Losing Wilson will be a blow on many levels but, providing the financial situation at the club is stable and the new coaching structure works just as well as the current one, there is no reason why any new regime can't continue the success and production line already established.

So who might replace Wilson? Ilkeston's model is rare at step three. The squad and coaching staff are mostly full-time and the whole setup is one which has generated a lot of praise and envy, particularly in the last year or so as it started to bear fruit. For that reason, many supporters are keen for Chettle to take the reins to at least ensure a degree of continuity once Wilson has gone.

Were Chettle not to be the man, there will surely be plenty of interest in replacing Wilson, probably more so than had they been what you might call a 'run of the mill' step three club!

All of which will hopefully bode well. Promotion will help, of course, so there's plenty at stake over the next few weeks, but whoever comes in will have big shoes to fill and a club's ever-growing reputation to uphold.

Mark Duffy
NLD Derbyshire writer
Twitter: @DuffersSport

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