New Farnham Town manager faces rebuilding job

By Colin Channon   |   Editorial manager   |
Friday 11th November 2022 7:00 am
@colinchannon
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Town’s new manager Paul Johnson
Town’s new manager Paul Johnson (Farnham Town )

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New Farnham Town manager Paul Johnson faces a rebuilding job after half his team walked out after the recent upheavals at the club.

Sean Birchnall left a fortnight ago, and last week coaches Dean Greenwood and Dan Goodall, who had taken the reins on a temporary basis, also quit.

As revealed in the Herald last week, Town moved quickly to appoint former Bedfont Sports manager Paul Johnson.

But at his first training session a week ago, several players didn’t show up – and others called the club to say they were moving on.

In all, around half-a-dozen first teamers have gone, including skipper Kane Fitzgerald, highly-rated Jack French, Liam Pestle, Chris Ellis and Rob Carr.

And to add to the drama, Johnson’s first match in charge at Knaphill last Saturday was abandoned after 72 minutes when a Town supporter was taken ill.

The Knaphill physio and a supporter offered medical assistance and the supporter was taken to hospital. He is since reported to be back home and recovering.

The Combined Counties League will need to decide whether the match will have to be replayed, or if the result will stand.

Johnson saw his new side take the lead, and then concede two goals in a couple of minutes.

But his attention was more on getting a team who could challenge on the day.

“It was disappointing when players either didn’t come to training or called to say they were leaving,” he said.

“I would have hoped they would have stayed on, even if it’s to see if they like us and our methods, and whether we like them.

“But it is what it is. I don’t want anyone here who doesn’t want to play for Farnham Town. I’m not going to chase them. If they have no interest in what we want to do here, they can move on.

“We still have a good squad with some experience and some very good lads, and everyone will get the opportunity to show what they can do.”

Johnson was highly successful in his eight years at Isthmian League South Central Division club Bedfont, building teams who won promotion from Step 6, Step 5 and made the play-offs in Step 4.

He is likely to draw on his friendships with some of the players from his time at the club to try to tempt them to The Memorial Ground over the summer.

But he has no intention of letting this season meander to a conclusion. “I have the same ambition as the club – I’m here because I want to win promotions,” he said.

“We won’t hide our ambitions. We want to win the league next season – and I want us to chase down the top two this season, too.

“Sure, it’s going to be more difficult after all that has gone on and the turnover of players, but we will be looking up the table, not down. I have no intention of letting things drift until the summer – if we did that, we might as well call it a day and come back in pre-season.

“I know the club have had a few managers over the past few years, but hopefully that’s over now. I appreciate there will be a bit of trial and error as we get the right players in place.

“There’s no rush – we can take our time and make sure everything is right for everyone. We need to get the mentality right for next season.”

Chairman Paul Tanner said: “Johnno has a lot of experience, a lot of professional backing and the right mentality about the package we have to offer.

“To have someone of the stature of Paul and his backroom staff coming in is great for the club.”

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