|Terry Higgins, interim chairman of AFC Emley|
AFC Emley interim chairman Terry Higgins believes the club are starting to overcome their problems, caused by the well-publicised events at the Welfare Ground.
John Whitehead’s resignation as chairman and secretary has left a gaping hole at Emley and Mr Higgins is trying to steady the ship.
Whitehead resigned 48 hours after sacking Darren Hepworth from his position as first team manager which left Mr Higgins picking up the pieces on the Sunday morning.
Hepworth was reinstated in the evening and Mr Higgins, 42, spoke of his pride of the club’s volunteers and supporters reaction this week.
He also paid tribute to the departed chairman Whitehead.
“Obviously last weekend wasn’t the best of weekends with all the events that did go on,” he told Sports Performer.
“I think this week we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and one of the pleasing things that I can take the positives from is the amount of support that has come forward.
“You could see on Saturday the volunteers that came forward. Behind the scenes we had people making sandwiches and cups of tea for people and really rallying around.
“John Whitehead and his wife Kaz were a major part of this club and fantastic servants to the club. John was chairman and secretary and Kaz did the bar and the tea bar.
“Any decision like what happened is going to be a difficult decision and one of the hardest things for me is that John and Kaz are personal friends of mine and my wife.
“For it to end up this way, someone was always going to get hurt.
“It has been difficult and there will be more difficult times to come and I’m sure we’re going to get things wrong and forget things, but all we can do is pull together.
“I’ve said to everyone that we’re all volunteers and let’s just try and enjoy it and get the fun back into it.”
While Mr Higgins and his volunteers were running the off-the-field matters on Saturday, Hepworth and Emley recorded their first win since his reinstatement.
Looking back on the 72 hours which started with Hepworth’s sacking and ended with his reinstatement, Mr Higgins said: “I will admit that I spoke to John on the Friday morning and he also spoke to Daz and sacked him
“This was done without consultation from the committee, which the committee were quite aggrieved by and rightly so.
“He then spoke to a possible candidate and unfortunately told the players and coaching staff that in the dressing room on the Saturday, which is what really caused the big upset.
“After Saturday, myself and John had a long chat with Roly Lanes and Pat Piercy about the future and who we appoint.
“John then called me on Sunday morning to say he felt he couldn’t take the club in the direction it wants to go anymore and wished to resign as chairman and secretary with immediate effect.
“He said he would put that in writing on the Monday morning. I said to him that I needed to speak the committee straightaway because I couldn’t wait until Monday morning because at that moment we had no chairman, no secretary, no first team manager and potentially players leaving from the first team and the committee members weren’t happy.
“I spoke to all the committee members, the first team captain and the coaches on Sunday with a view of getting together.
“But, at that stage, by speaking to everyone, there was no doubt that momentum was building saying ‘let’s put Daz back in charge’. Yes things were said and things need to be changed, but the overwhelming majority, I will admit it wasn’t unanimous, said that Daz was the right man to take the club forward.
“All I could do on the Sunday as vice-chairman was speak to as many of the committee as humanely possible, admittedly a couple were on holiday, and ask them who they wanted in charge of this football club.
“That vote wasn’t unanimous, but everyone agrees we did it democratically and we have got to move on from that and give Daz our full backing.”
Emley will appoint a new chairman at an unscheduled Extraordinary General Meeting, but Mr Higgins says the priority to recruit a club secretary.
“One of the big things is that we need a secretary and in non-league football that is a huge role and such an important role,” he said.
“If we can find a secretary and we are constantly looking around.
“There are two things: a – steady the ship over the next few weeks and b – start planning for the rest of the season and for the next couple of years.
“It is a great time to get the right people in place.”
Asked if he wanted to become the permanent chairman, Mr Higgins, who has lived in the village for around 12 years and being involved with the football club for four of them, said: “I would happily be chairman, what I don’t want to see is this club stagnate.
“Like everyone else, it is about time. I have a family, a job and I work away from home a lot.”