Former Farnham Town manager Sean Birchnall has stinging rebuke for the club

By Colin Channon   |   Editorial manager   |
Thursday 27th October 2022 4:00 pm
@colinchannon
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Former Farnham Town manager Sean Birchnall
Former Farnham Town manager Sean Birchnall (Tindle )

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Former Farnham Town manager Sean Birchnall has blamed off-the-field shenanigans for his decision to quit.

The highly-respected former Army coach took over the reins of the Combined Counties Premier South club in the summer.

He was charged with a major rebuilding job as the club are keen for their on-the-field progress to match their ambitions to renovate the ground and to progress up the non-league pyramid.

Town have been inconsistent as the players have got used to their new team-mates and Birchnall’s methods. They went down 1-0 to struggling Sheerwater on Saturday in front of a record league Memorial Ground crowd of 747 but Birchnall insisted the result played no part in his decision to leave.

“I was working with some very difficult people at the club. It has been a real challenge with that circus in the background,” he said.

“I’ve never been involved with a club where you have so much interference in the background.

“As a manager you can’t have things going on behind your back because it affects you.

“It’s a real shame it has come to this as I have left the football club for something that is not a football matter.

“I think I have forged a relatively good reputation at non-league, I have been involved at various levels and I have enough about me to be able to manage and to be able to accommodate players.

“You are not going to win every game of football, let’s be blunt. But there were non-football people making football decisions without any knowledge of the impact of them. It’s extremely frustrating.

“It’s a circus, some of the stuff I have had to deal with. The football club has made more enemies than friends, without a doubt, with all this going on in the background.

“As a former soldier, integrity is important to me – and if you can’t trust the people at the football club you are working with, it’s terrible and I don’t have to put up with that.

“If you are bottom of the league and you’re not winning games, then I’d totally understand it. But we are far from bottom of the league. It’s a real shame as we have a great group of players and the coaching staff have been brilliant, and they’ve had to put up with some of this as well.

“We are probably one or two players away from being a very good side. We proved in games against Fleet, Guildford and Croydon that we’re a good side.

“We let ourselves down in a couple of games, like away at Balham and on Saturday against Sheerwater when we didn’t perform.

“That was frustrating because we do have the players with the ability to beat those teams. But with all that has been going on in the background, it’s not a good mixture.

“It’s a shame because I first played for Farnham in about 1999 – I played there, I managed there and my boy has played there and it does pain me to be in this position.

“But I have a set of morals and I have to stick by them. If you can’t trust people, there’s no point being there, none whatsoever.

“The staff and players have worked tirelessly for me. We always have 18 at training and although some players were disappointed not to be playing, they have always wanted to be part of this squad.

“The coaching staff have always delivered good, innovative sessions for the players to learn from, and I wish them all the best in whatever they do next.

“We set ourselves realistic targets of the points we wanted to have after so many games and we are a few points short of that, and that was only because we let ourselves down in certain games.

“We were starting to get that balance of youth and experience and getting more consistency with the squad, with the same eight or so players appearing in the past few games. We just needed to get the winning consistency right – we can’t work so hard away at Croydon only to get beaten by Sheerwater.

“Sheerwater did what we expected them to do but we weren’t clever enough to counter that. When you’re facing a team who have lost their last two games and let in 13 goals, they are going to do something different and we didn’t create enough – and than made one mistake which cost us, with the only shot they had on target.”

Birchnall is keen to get back involved in the dugout. “I’ll be back one day. I enjoy it,” he said.

“I love being in the changing rooms and being able to influence players. I’ll wait for an opportunity and see what comes along.”

Town chairman Paul tanner said he was disappointed to see Birchnall leave he club.

In a statement, the club said: “Farnham Town will always be indebted to Sean after he has given so many years of service to the club, firstly as a player, then as a coach and as of this past summer, occupying the role of first-team manager. He will always be welcomed back to Mead Lane with open arms.”

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