Trafford FC manager Danny Caldecott can’t wait to get going ahead of the new campaign – which he hopes will be his first full season in management.
Caldecott, 39, stepped up from the assistant manager role this time last year after former boss Tom Baker resigned.
With Trafford only managing seven games before the 2020/21 season was abandoned thanks to Covid-19, it’s been a stop-start introduction to management for the former player, now in his sixth year at the Shawe View club.
He said: “ The transition was easy in some ways, and in others it wasn’t. The realisation sets in how much time and work the manager’s role involves, and what responsibility is placed on your shoulders. I’ve learnt a lot in a short period of time.”
After over three years as assistant, he admits he has always wanted a manager’s role – albeit not in the circumstances which arose last summer.
Baker resigned after five years in charge, and Caldecott was offered the chance to take charge.
“It was a big shock when the gaffer left – I still call him gaffer even now. He called me round to his house and he told me he was leaving. I was expecting to be talking about preseason and recruitment etc. I’ve always aspired to be in management,” he said.
Caldecott’s team will take their place in the newly-formed Northern Premier League Division One West thanks to non-league restructuring.
His preparations have been less than ideal, with Covid restrictions, bad weather and departing players all giving him a headache before a ball was kicked in the preseason.
The team’s first friendly, away to New Mills, on July 6 was called off hours before kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch.
“I’m gutted the game is off. We’ve only had 7-8 sessions together as a team. We’ve kept in touch via Whatsapp etc, but it’s not the same as training and playing together. Covid restrictions have made it difficult to keep the team together. Over the last year I’ve only lost a couple of players. Since we’ve been back though, I’ve lost 3 more. It’s been difficult getting replacements in. We don’t have a massive budget and we’ve lost some important players. This is my toughest period as a manager so far.”
After an extensive non-league career as a player for the likes of Hyde United and Stalybridge Celtic came to an end, his progression into management allowed him to see the game from a different perspective.
“When you’re a player you only think of yourself – I don’t care what anyone says, all players are the same. I certainly did! As a manager you realise how many people rely on you – you’re looking after your players, your fans, the budget – it’s a big pressure. I can relate to what players are thinking – you can only pick eleven, and they all want to play.”
As is common across non-league, volunteers keep the club running on a day-to-day basis – and Caldecott is keen to foster this attitude in his side, praising the way the club is run.
“We’re lucky at Trafford that we know exactly what budget we have and that the people involved are doing everything they can. We’re very much a community-based club. We live within our means – we’re not a club with a massive amount of money. We’ve not got someone pumping money in and then the hunger and desire goes, they get cold feet without instant success. It’s not like that at Trafford.”
While preseason is young, the manager is already out checking out his divisional rivals at friendlies – watching Mossley AFC take a 6-2 win away at Chadderton on Monday night.
“ In many ways they are a similar club to us – not blessed with money and having to take a chance on younger players who want to move back up the football league. They seem to have a good mix of youth and experience. I don’t know the manager David (Fish) that well, but he always comes across well and I’ve heard good things. It was a heavy win; they gave a good account of themselves and they may surprise a few people this season.”
Trafford host Curzon Ashton on Saturday July 10 with a 3pm kickoff. Fans are encouraged to book ahead via the Shocal app, with Covid restrictions limiting capacity.