Millers look to the future after short but sweet Briggs era ends

FC Halifax Town first training session of the season.'New signing Keith Briggs.
FC Halifax Town first training session of the season.'New signing Keith Briggs.

In terms of managerial reigns, it wasn’t quite on a par with those of Leroy Rosenior or Dave Bassett.

The aforementioned duo’s legacies lasted just ten minutes and four days in their roles at Torquay and Crystal Palace respectively.

However, Keith Briggs’ departure from New Mills after just 23 days at the Church Lane helm was still a peculiar incident when it broke last Friday.

There had been plenty of positivity around the club since his arrival at the start of the month.

And this was a club that needed positivity injecting into it after surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth thanks to a reprieve last season.

New recruits had joined, with an emphasis on young, attack-minded players.

Performances in pre-season were encouraging, especially the win against Football League outfit Rochdale.

However, the bolt from the blue came when it was confirmed he had departed to join Sheffield United in a coaching capacity at the League One club’s academy.

Patrick Kenyon, club treasurer, says that assistant manager Andy Fearn will take over the running of the first-team, assisted by Mark Atkins.

Kenyon told the Advertiser: “When a Football League club comes calling, you can’t not accept it.

“The timing couldn’t be worse for us really.

“However, we knew Keith was ambitious as a manger and that he wanted to go places.

“We knew there was a possibility that Keith could use us a stepping stone but we maybe thought that would have been in a few years rather than a few weeks!

“Despite his exit, in the short time he’s been here he’s made a massive impact.

“He delivered on the remit of building a young, attacking side and we’ve made an encouraging start through pre-season.

“The fact that Andy is staying on means that we will have that continuity.

“Andy and Keith worked closely together when they were at Stalybridge and it’s no secret that we brought a few players from there recently.

“I think with Andy staying on board, it will help us because he knows the lads really well.”

Kenyon confirmed that the club’s board will be meeting with Fearn this week, once he has returned from holiday in America.

One of the issues to discuss is the shaping of the coaching staff.

Briggs’ exit has reduced the management team to just two and Kenyon says any decision to employ a new coach will be discussed with Fearn upon his return.

He added: “We’re going to wait for the dust to settle and then when Andy has returned from holiday we can discuss it at length.

“It might be that he wants a new coach to join.

“Our remit was to get coaches in who can coax the best out of young players and find the best talented players in the local area.

“Ideally we wanted a team of three coaches but obviously it’s Andy who will have the final say as he is manager now.”

The Millers are still on the lookout for a home friendly on Saturday (August 1).

The club was hoping to secure a game before Briggs’ departure threw it into doubt.