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Billy Holland joins Marketmen

Written by Mark Morsley on .

I am pleased to announce that overnight I have tied up the signing of Billy Holland on a two year deal.  Billy has been playing for Ipswich Wanderers this season and has been a key part of their incredible FA Vase run.  Billy is a player we have been looking at for some time and our initial plan was to speak to him during the summer.  However with some movement in playing personnel in the last fortnight I felt the need to move that plan forward and met the lad last week.  

Billy ticks the boxes in terms of the sort of player we are looking for, he did his developing football years at Ipswich Town (playing in the same youth team as Luke Ingram) and has great potential.  As a left footed centre midfielder he will create competition in that position but I also feel he has the potential to develop other parts of his game and to be a real asset for us going forward.  He will come into the squad for the crucial league game against VCD Athletic and I am looking forward to my coaching staff working with and developing another young talent.

My thanks goes to Wanderers Manager Glenn Reed for his help with this move.

Billy (far left) celebrating one of his Wanderers goals earlier this season


The Bury Free Press and the Adam Mills story

Written by Mark Morsley on .

Can I start by saying the points made in this release are mine and mine alone and are not an official position of Needham Market FC.  They are written purely to put my points across to cover what I believe is the truth are done so without prejudice. 

Following on from the story printed in todays Bury Free Press regarding the position that surrounded Adam leaving our football club, I feel that there are points in this story that need to be clarified.  I also feel that I should put my position straight in this and also inform our supporters (and other readers of my Musings) of the impact running this story will have. 

In the first instance let me clarify my actions that surrounded the initial club fine that relates to the alleged ‘spitting’ incident.  It is true that initially I fined Adam 2 weeks’ wages and suspended him from 1st team games for a period of time.  This was not something that was done lightly but it was done after talking to a number of people, 2 of which were Needham players who informed me that he had in fact spat at the Staines player. 

Although I had not seen the incident myself, I was pretty certain based on the reaction of the Staines player on the pitch and then in the bar afterwards that something pretty serious had gone on.  Being spat at is pretty much as low as it gets and certainly most people would react in such a way if it had happened to them. 

Under the terms of Adam's FA contract, he could appeal my decision and following the involvement of his Father Geoff Mills this was muted and a copy of the video of the game was made available to me.  Interestingly in the BFP Mr Mills states the video ‘shows enough to back his son’s total denial’. 

Well although that makes interesting reading the truth is that the video does not actual show Adam when the alleged incident took place.  It was actually showing another part of the game and when he came back into shot he is seen to be verbally abusing the Staines player. 

At that stage if I had wanted to prove my allegation and implement the fine and ban I would have had to ask the players, who spoke to me in confidence, to give evidence at a hearing something I was not prepared to undertake.  These players trusted my integrity by keeping their statements to myself and I had no intention of breaking that trust. 

However, this incident was not the first time Adam has had disciplinary issues (he was fined previously in the season for a disgraceful challenge in the FA Cup reply against Stanway Rovers when he received a straight red card).  I would also add that the involvement of his Father in this also made Adams future at the football club untenable and he was therefore placed on the transfer list.

It is interesting that the family Mills statement in the BFP states that my comment that the reason for him be made available for transfer was due to a ‘recent lack of game time’ and that was why they went to the press.  That again is an interesting twist because the reason I said that was to preserve the integrity of the player and his reputation. 

In fact, this whole ridiculous situation has really got out of hand and is possibly another incident where the involvement of a parent has either ruined or severally hampered a son's football progress.  It is a common occurrence at professional Academies where a player might lose his scholarship because the coaches opinion of the player is tainted by the input from a parent.

I truly believe that Adam would have taken his punishment in this incident and then would have continued as a Needham player.  It is important to point out that a key part of my philosophy for our football club is to bring on young players.  Adam played a lot of football because my staff worked hard on his obvious potential and I was prepared to give him the chance to excel at a tender age. 

In addition to that I will personally miss the lad, I liked him immensely.  I have no doubt that I was managing his football career in the right way and part of that education was around teaching him the importance of discipline.  That responsibility now moves to my old mate (and a previous Head Coach of mine) Steve Ball at Maldon & Tiptree.  Hopefully Adam will listen and learn from a manager who has played at the highest level and I truly wish him all the best going forward.

I would now like to move on to the Bury Free Press and in particular the reporter/editor who ran this story, Russell Claydon.  Russell spoke to me on two occasions regarding this story and I told him that if he runs it then the BFP would no longer receive any comments or stories from me, my football club and they would not be welcome at any Needham games.

My reason for taking this stance is two fold.  Firstly, I believe that the role of the BFP is to report on local issues and that relates to football stories.  Many people buy the paper to read about Needham Market FC as well as other local teams.  This paper has some really good reporters; Sam Murley I have dealt with many times and is excellent, Alex Moss is a great lad and is carving a future out in the press and of course the Number 1 reporter from the BFP (and others, although he has now been promoted) is Derek Bish.  These guys know what this paper is about and they understand non-league football. 

Secondly, the relationship with a non-league football manager and the press is important and a 2-way street.  Having been managing non-league teams for nearly 20 years I get to hear or create many stories and have also made some pretty big signings myself.  When this happens I will give the press the ‘heads up’ to help with their job and have done this to the BFP many times.  In addition, I am one of the most approachable individuals and can always be contacted for a story or a comment at just about any time.  So when an individual approaches them with a story that is inaccurate in many ways and clearly being done to create a slur on a managers’ name, I feel that the relationship that has been built up over the years should mean something and the story should be shredded.  It is interesting that the BFP were actually the second choice for Family Mills’ story as another football media outlook disregarded it as a ‘non’ story having spoken to me about it.

For Mr Claydon however this is not the case.  He needs to realise that it is not the Sun or Daily Star that he works for, it is a regional newspaper that gives excellent news about the things that matter to the local people.  Its interesting that this is not the first time he has been involved in stories that he feels can raise his personal profile, with the upshot that his paper have had major fall outs with AFC Sudbury and Hadleigh United.  Like Needham Market they are excellent clubs run by really good committed people and do not deserve to have cheap shots aimed at them by a second rate reporter.

So at the end of this who are the winners and losers in this press pantomime?

Well family Mills may feel they have ‘scored some points’ against me but what has happened is Adam’s standing amongst experienced non-league managers will have dropped immensely.  A few have contacted me already and the term ‘trouble maker’ has been mentioned to me.  It is not always just about ability, the importance of the group matters and as the saying goes, there is no I in team.  So the first loser in this would have to be Adams integrity which I had tried to protect.

The next losers are the Bury Free Press because they will no longer be able to report on our games and how the football club is developing.  We are a progressive club run by excellent people, we have 2 academies and we are ambitious.  All this points to good stories going forward and I suspect that the supporters in and around Needham will no longer be spending their £1.20 each week on the BFP.  That then means the next losers are the local outlets that sell the paper.

Russell Claydon also does not come out of this well either.  Not only will the readers of the story see it for what it is, they will always relate this to him.  He clearly feels that his newspaper needs a bit of ‘shock and awe’ but I am not sure that printing the personal agenda of one individual is that.  I suspect that the signing of Ian Westlake or Kem Izzet that I gave to the paper as an exclusive in the past did more for the longer term circulation than a frustrated editor who runs a story that helps to reduce the sales?  Probably best that is not included in his CV when it is sent to Rupert Murdoch.

As for me, well I think I am pretty neutral in all of this.  There will still be people who are not fans of me and there will still be people who think a lot of me.  That is what happens as a football manager, particularly one who is as outspoken as I am. 

What it will not do is reduce my ambition for Needham Market Football Club going forward.  When todays BFP is wrapped around tomorrows fish and chips I will be taking on Leatherhead with a group of players committed to the cause, following which I will discuss the game with the members of the media who want to report on real stories.



Written by Mark Morsley on .

Following much speculation I can confirm that we transferred Sam Newson to Maldon & Tiptree today.  Following making him available for transfer there has been substantial interest.  However, after he met The Jammers manager David Wright I believe the 'project' that they are working on and the set up was right for Sam at this stage at his career.

As a football manager part of my job is to make decisions that I feel are right for the team going forward.  These decisions can often be very unpopular with the supporters and in this case it was a really tough one, which took quite a bit of deliberating on.  In fact if the decision had been made with my heart it would never have happened.

Sam has been with the club since 2010/2011 and his popularity was established early on as not many players get their own song (Super Sammy Newson!!!).  From my point of view he is one of the hardest working players I have ever managed and also as a lad he is right up there.  Over the years there have been plenty of players that I don't always look forward to seeing on a match day but with Sam he always made me smile and it was a pleasure to have him as a part of my Needham team since I rejoined the club in February 2012.

Without doubt he will have a massive impact at Maldon and will suit their style of play.  I really believe that the ambition they have shown by going the 'extra mile' to get him will pay dividends and I will be keeping an eye on their results going forward.



Written by Mark Morsley on .

I am pleased to announce that Sam Nunn will be rejoining us from Lowestoft Town.  Sam was a key member of the team that was built at the start of season 2013/2014 and is an excellent central defender.  He has agreed a new deal with us until the end of season 2016/2017 and will be available for next weeks game at Dulwich Hamlet.  I want to put on record my thanks to Lowestoft Manager Ady Gallagher and Chairman Gary Keyzor for their help in securing this signing.

Nunny at last seasons championship clinching win at Chatham Town


Written by Mark Morsley on .

Since my last Musings we have, as a club hit rock bottom as well as hitting the heights.  That is the wonder of the beautiful game and just goes to show my last heading (‘I always felt it could be a rollercoaster ride’) was just about spot on.

I did an interview with Radio Suffolk after the 3-1 defeat against East Thurrock when I was (uncharacteristically) down beat.  We had just put in another decent performance between the two boxes but had leaked goals and not scored or created much in the way of decent chances.  At that point our season had had the odd high point (our first win against Lewes and the away draw at Tonbridge Angels both stand out) but far too many lows.  We had lost our identity, we changed the system too often and went into some matches ‘hoping’ that tactical decisions would work.

As the ‘Captain of the ship’ those decisions were solely my responsibility and in that role I made a key decision.  That decision was that if we were going to get relegated this season we would do so playing in the system that I have preferred for the vast majority of my management career and playing to the type of football that I and my staff believe in.


Craig Edwards whose Billericay team had easily beaten us in late October

That approach and belief was where we started when we walked into the Needham building in February 2013 and led us to becoming Champions last season.  So we drew a thick black line under the highly disappointing defeats to Brightlingsea Regent, Billericay, Canvey and of course East Thurrock, rolled up our sleeves and prepared for the visit of the form team, particularly away from home, Tonbridge Angels.

The term ‘bodies on the line’ was added to the pre-match team talk as we played with Kieran Morphew moving into central defence and Ollie Fenn into holding midfield.  This allowed Jay Davies and Callum Harrison (who’s loan from Colchester United has been extended) to push forward from the centre of the park and in turn Michael Brothers to give the Angels defence a torrid time, and boy did he do that.  A 2-1 win with Bruvs notching both and him earning what was probably the most clean cut Man of the Match award I’ve ever seen.


Kieran Morphew; his development from Academy Scholar to current captain and centre half is something I am proud to have played a small part in

We played excellent counter attacking football in the early stages of the game and as the match developed we got better and better.  Even the outstanding Angels goal that levelled the scores did not effect us and Bruvs’ second came just 3 minutes later.

Next up Hendon away and could we continue where we left off?  Hendon had beaten us back in August and that day they were brilliant.  However, their loss of form possibly gave us a chance so could we take it? 


Michael 'Bruvs' Brothers - 'Its my ball and you can't have it!!' 

Well after a 2-0 victory and without doubt the best performance of the season we most certainly did!  On a very wet pitch we passed the ball with confidence and pace, domineering in wide areas to call all the shots throughout the match.  The confidence from our wingers was shown with the two goalscorers, that being Adam Mills and Luke Ingram.  Leading by those goals at the break would mean a solid second half performance was needed and to avoid the early goal.  That we did thanks to hard work, bodies on the line and a couple of decent Danny Gay saves.  But do not think it was in any way a backs to wall performance, it was anything but.  We passed the ball for fun and were a threat throughout the game, where a wider win margin would have been more akin to our dominance on the day.


18 year old Adam Mills - our leading scorer (from left midfield) in the league is having a decent season

Next up a quick turnaround against East Thurrock in conditions that bordered on the farcical.  I am sure you have all see the Romford own goal in their match against Thurrock on the same night? Well we were just down the road.  With the wind blowing straight down the pitch the instruction to Captain Morphew was to win the toss and play into the wind.  So much for that plan as we prepared for a wind assisted assault on the Rocks goal.  As it turned out it was very difficult to keep possession with the wind and a very fortunate Bruvs goal, coming from a cross/shot that the home custodian pretty much punched into his own net, was all that separated us at the break.

Copy this into your browser to see the Romford own goal-

The second half was about hard work, good short passing and getting our dribblers to run with the ball in the final third.  However, 10 minutes into the half Danny Gay made a great save to parry away a shot that the unfortunate Ollie Brown ran into to levelled the scores.  From that point on though we got our game plan right and carved out possibly more chances that our hosts but no goals to show.  That was until the 92nd minute when young Harrison capped a fine display by driving into the opposition box and whipping a shot across Thurrock’s keeper that was going in but helped by a defender who was aware that Sam Newson was behind him, which gave us a very much deserved 3 points.

Farnborough away was the next challenge and our 3 match winning run changed the dynamics of this game.  We were probably considered as favourites and we started the game very much on the front foot.  You can gauge our dominance when you realise that Gaysee had his first touch in the 14 minute!  What was missing however was the goal to capped off a number of fine moves.  In fact, totally against the run of play, a scruffy bit of play where we lost possession and then gave away a penalty allowed Borough to take the lead.

We kept our heads and continued to dominate with the only thing missing was a goal for our efforts.  Still losing at half-time, the point was made that maybe the standards that had been set where missing in some players’ performances and better was expected.  That was rectified in the second half when we continued to be excellent and a great strike from Jordan Patrick levelled the scores.


JP who equalised for us at Farnborough with a fine strike

Bruvs sustained an injury to his hamstring which allowed new signing Ollie Mann to make his debut.  I was slightly concerned that we would lose the focal point of our attacks but Ollie was excellent leading the line.  We also soon introduced News and I felt it was just a matter of time before we scored with his running through the channels and Ollie’s lay offs opening our hosts defence up with ease.  However, it wasn’t to be and we had to settle for a draw.


Ollie Mann who had a fine debut at Farnborough

Who would have believed on the 7th of November that we would glean 10 points and get out of the relation positions in the next 4 games.  Not sure I would have but I really believe we are in a far better place now.  Confidence in a massive part of football, when you haven’t got it the most simple of tasks is a chore but when your flying things seem to go your way and I hope we can take strength from this as we continue in this Ryman Premier Division adventure.



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