Belfast Telegraph

Forward-thinking Telford insists he'll sail his Crewe to exciting shores

By Martin Mawhinney

If prizes were handed out for potential, then Crewe United would already be planning their Mid Ulster Intermediate A trophy procession through the streets of Glenavy.

As things stand, however, the Crewe Park side are facing up to the harsh reality of playing their football in Intermediate B next season after failing to recover from a damaging start to the season.

Yet the man who arrived at the club in November with the mission statement of turning the club’s fortunes around is backing them to bounce back in the next 12 months and beyond.

“It was probably a given that we weren’t going to stay up this season,” admitted Crewe manager Colin Telford. “You have to be realistic. This was a team that hadn’t taken a single point in the league, and had gone out at the first stage of all the cups.

“This is a club that has been used to being up in the top half of the table, but whatever has happened in the last 18 months, it has had an effect. I just think they made appointments that didn’t work out for them.”

Of course, sometimes that is just the way of things. Almost a year to the day before his latest appointment, Telford arrived at Dunmurry Rec with a first team facing similar difficulties as Crewe’s, having acquired just one point from seven Amateur League Premier Division games prior to his arrival.

And, despite showing promising signs of rejuvenation in an epic comeback attempt, everything fell flat once again in their first Division 1A campaign following their relegation, seeing Telford head out the exit door only three weeks before receiving the call from Crewe.

He recalled: “Even though the club had started so badly, we ended up on 23 points and took it to the second last game of the season. We beat (title contenders) Crumlin Star on the Tuesday, then on the Thursday, we were 2-0 up against Kilmore, needing the win to take it into our final game against Ardglass on the Saturday, and ended up running out of steam and losing.

“It seemed like a turning point, though, and we re-signed a lot of the players that finished so strong for us, but we just didn’t start (1A) with the blaze I thought we would.

“The thing with Dunmurry was, they were wanting things to happen quickly, and I was predicting it to be a slow building process. I know the expectations will start next season for me here at Crewe.” 

On one hand, Telford is starting from scratch. His first team has an average age of 21 with several teenagers playing a key role in the line-up.  

Yet on the other, he is miles ahead of most other teams in the local game. He knows the facilities and infrastructure at his disposal would be the envy of most club managers in Northern Ireland. Now the Pro-Licence-qualified coach has to build his way up to replicating those standards on the pitch.

“No pressure, eh?” he laughed. “But seriously, that is one of the things about this post that appeals to me. This is a challenge.

“It is an amazing place, and things are run impeccably from behind the scenes. They have their own floodlit 3G training facilities, were I get to work with the players for a couple of hours a couple of nights a week, their own brand new ground, a clubhouse that is second to none, a gym and a physio room.

“The club has a direct route into the Irish League, and I asked the chairman Tom McKenna if that was what the club wanted, and he said it was all set up for that.”

So, as Telford himself joked - no pressure, then...

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