LAST Saturday’s home game against Newcastle Town marked the end of assistant manager Lee Wilkinson’s seven year stay at Rainworth MW.
‘Dagger’, as he is popularly known, was Rudy Funk’s first signing when the now Scarborough Athletic boss took over at Kirklington Road in the summer of 2005, and has been with the club through its rise from the Central Midlands League, through the NCEL, to the current Evo-Stik NPL Division One South status, serving as player, captain, assistant and joint manager.
But business and family reasons have forced the popular and respected Wilkinson to take a step back from football.
When current boss Kevin Gee took over at Rainworth in November he immediately asked Wilkinson, who had been joint boss with Billy Millar, to stay on as his assistant.
Gee paid tribute to his friend and colleagues, saying: “I had no hesitation in asking Lee to remain with us, and as an assistant manager he has been top drawer.
“But the reality is that his business comes first, as a businessman he’s very successful in his own right, and as a result of this he’s been given the opportunity to progress, and while I’m sorry to lose him I have to respect his priorities and he has made the right decision.”
Wilkinson himself leaves with mixed feelings. He said: “When a chance like this comes along I have to take it, but of course I’m sad to be leaving.
“I’ll miss the banter and camaraderie with the lads. I was asked last year to help keep the club in this division, and was asked again this year, and we’ve done that.
“I’ve always held Rainworth in the highest regard, but I’m a dad now and run my own business. My family life has had to take a back seat throughout my football career, but now certain opportunities have come up which I’ve got to take.
“But I won’t be a stranger, and will be back whenever I can to give Kev and the lads a bit of stick. Rainworth is a great club, and I hope and trust they will do well next season with a fresh start under Kev.”