West Bridgford Football Club replaced their manager in May with Ryan Doherty stepping down from a short but successful time with the East Midlands Counties outfit to be replaced by Chris Galley, a man who knows the club, and the local non-league football scene very well indeed.
I worked with Chris myself, at Real United some years back where we coached together under the experienced and explosive but lovable character that is Gary Hayward, Chris a calming influence is a real football man, deep in thought with good knowledge of the game, a football person from a football family, I caught up with Chris recently to ask his opinion on life under lockdown and life as new Manager of what is said to be Europe’s biggest football club.
I asked Chris “You’ve been around the club in the past, taking on the Managers job is a positive step for you personally considering how the side has progressed in recent years, what made you take it? What excites you about the opportunity?”
Chris replied “WBFC has been very successful over the last 7 years or so and success is embedded within the club and all the people involved so taking on the first team managers role was an exciting opportunity for me to try and take the club that stage further.”
“Marksy and Robbo won this league a few years ago with a good squad but most important for me looking in from the outside, a very tight squad, a great changing room.”
If myself and Chris Withe can move the club forward to the next level we are absolutely certain the club will back the progression. It’s not only important for the first team to progress and improve but we must also set the bar high for the U23’s coming through and the U18’s and U16’s.”
“We need a solid pathway for the talent that is currently at this club and make no mistake there is a lot of talent coming through. So yes the excitement is with us having success by way of promotion but also creating a clear pathway for the kids to follow and aspire to playing for the first team, very exciting times Danny.”
The club are currently actively looking for sponsors during a time where many businesses have been hit by the recent economic situation so I asked Chris whether it was feasible to get behind a club like West Bridgford financially and back them.
“The big pull for me with anyone wanting to sponsor or advertise their company with us is the fact we are I believe the largest football club in Europe currently with over 1200 players. I’m not sure exactly but I think that’s over 100 teams, that’s a huge audience with parents and friends so to get your business name associated with this club will be great PR and also should give you a return on your investment.”
On the clubs intentions going forward I asked Chris if they’ll be any new faces or existing players exiting the club and he replied…
“One of the main reasons myself and Withy threw our hats in the ring was the noises coming from last year’s squad, a good percentage of them wanted to push on a go again at promotion. I’m delighted that I’ve spoken to everyone of them and a good 80% have committed to pushing for promotion again this season coming.”
“We do need to strengthen in areas but like most at this level we are talking to players but it’s tricky to get any real commitment from them at this stage. We will need to get them involved during the pre season and have a look at them.”
“The important part for me Danny is not only will they make us a stronger squad but the most important part will their personality fit into the current squad/changing room. We are already a tight group that has had a season together so we understand our strengths and weaknesses, we need to add to that but they must be the right fit not just a good player who wants to play for us.”
With football taking a back seat during the time that Galley has been appointed with the Managers role at West Bridgford I asked how he faired over lockdown and what he has done to get through these tough past few months.
“Not very well haha haha.” Was his response.
“I’ve also been furloughed from my job since 23rd march. Decorated rooms in the house and the garden hasn’t looked this good for ages. Yeah joking aside I’ve missed it like mad Danny, it’s a massive part of my life and always has been.”
“I’m not good at the end of a season let alone when it’s forced on you, however it’s given us time to think, take stock and set out some really good challenges for the club, the players and myself as manager. Planning and expectation is key for me and I’ve had lots of time to put in place myself how I see things going and the roles I see within the changing room and squad. As you know Danny I take my football seriously no matter what level but it has to be enjoyed and taken seriously. I’ve also been coaching WBFC Colts sides too now we can put on small sessions, 5 players per coach so myself and Mike Edwards have been keeping busy with that 3 days a week. Just want a start date now so we can plan the pre season.”
As a youngster Galley was part of the famous Coventry City FA Youth Cup winning team in 1987 (the same year the first team beat Spurs in the FA Cup at Wembley) and recent re-runs of that final brought back memories to a football man, who’s father John was a former Nottingham Forest striker during the 1970’s.
I asked Chris about some of those memories, growing up in the shadow of a famous goalscoring father and thanks to an Instagram photo I saw, about a little venture to Hong Kong where he played with some exceptional footballers during the late 1980’s and early 90’s too.
“Yeah lots of old FA Cup reruns and world cups on the tv at the moment. It’s was great to watch the Coventry City FA Cup win again, it was a long time ago now but the big stand out that season for me wasn’t just the buzz about the City due to the first teams cup run but also the youth team I was in, we were also on our own massive cup run which also ended in us winning the FA Youth cup that same year. It was madness but not as much as the holiday the club sent us all on at the end of that season, now that was madness.”
“I was released as a 19 year old pro from CCFC so floated around with a bit of time at Birmingham City and then at Grimsby Town for a short period. I then received an offer to play out in Hong Kong for 3 months, I Loved it and stayed for 3 1/2 years playing for a side called Happy Valley FC, I played with some great players out there Russel Milton, Tony Morley, Gary Shaw, Peter Bowdack and a great friend now Bob Newton.”
“The photo I think you’ve seen (on Instagram) was a very young me captaining a Hong Kong 11 vs China. I had a great time out there but decided I wanted to try and play back here so returned around 1993 and went down to Grantham Town. Dislocated my knee snapped anterior and posterior cruciate ligament in training and the rest is history really, no more football.”
“That completely devastated me if I’m honest, I had surgery to rebuild the ligaments but the advice I had was to stop playing. I tried to come back and spent 6-8 month around the city ground with John Hasselden trying to get me fit but It kept breaking down. Once that decision was made it was tough as you can imagine but Lots of support from the family. My dad had made over 400 league appearances with close to 200 league goals for various clubs including Forest and Bristol City so I think he may have been pretty gutted also but don’t really remember too much, it was a while ago now, I would have never played for England Danny but i do believe I would have earned a living out of the game.”
Those footballing days may now be a fond and frustrating distant memory for Chris as a player, but as a Manager with an ambitious club like West Bridgford, his career could just be about to take off.
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
Main image @TheOfficialATFC Chris Galley in his days managing at Arnold Town.