EVO-STIK NPL Division One South Rainworth MW have moved quickly to secure the services of Kevin Gee as their new manager – a quarter of a century after he started his playing career with the then Notts Alliance club.
Former Glapwell assistant manager and operations director Gee’s appointment comes after the Wrens relieved joint managers Lee Wilkinson and Billy Millar of their positions on Thursday night by mutual consent.
Wilkinson will remain as Gee’s assistant, but Miller and coach Darren Kelk have left the club.
Wilkinson and Millar’s reign as managers came to an end after a disastrous run of results left the Wrens struggling around the relegation zone.
Chairman Derek Blow paid tribute to the efforts of the duo and Kelk, saying: “Billy and Lee turned the club around after the departure of Rudy Funk a year ago, and lifted us well clear of relegation danger in the second half of the season.
“It seemed that improvement would carry over into this season when we were the only club in the division to win both of our first two games.
“But since then we have managed just one win in 17, and sadly we could not let that go on.
“I would like on behalf of the club to thank them for their efforts – they have been immense servants to the club, and I’m truly sorry that it has been necessary to take this action.”
Both Millar and Wilkinson joined the Wrens at the start of the Rudy Funk era in the summer of 2005, as assistant manager and captain respectively.
Following Funk’s shock resignation a year ago after three promotions in four years Millar moved up to the hot seat with Wilkinson as his assistant, and in March it became a joint managership, with Kelk on board as coach.
Mr Blow added: “In Kevin I believe we have the man who can lead our club to fulfil its potential.
“He knows what this level of football is all about and, having been Glapwell’s operations director, is well clued up on the administrative side of things too, and I look forward to working with him.”
Having been with Mansfield as a youngster, Gee joined Rainworth in the Notts Alliance as a midfielder/winger and was an instant hit with the club’s fans of the 1980s.
He subsequently stepped up to play Northern Premier football with Matlock Town, before moving on to Burton Albion and then Worksop.
He broke into management at Central Midlands League level with Welbeck Welfare, assisted by current Carlton Town boss Les McJannet.
McJannet later moved on to manage the newly formed North Notts FC (now Sutton Town) when Mr Blow was chairman of the then newly-formed club, and Gee, by now working in a coaching capacity at Notts County, followed McJannet there as assistant.
However, pressure of work at Meadow Lane meant he had to step down from North Notts, but he subsequently rejoined McJannet at Glapwell where he combined the role of operations director with that of assistant manager.
Together they led the village club into Northern Premier League football, just missing out on a Play-off place at the first attempt and then, a year later with McJannet having left and John Gaunt in charge and Gee still assisting, they reached the Division One South Play-offs.
Sadly last season was dominated by politics, which led to their withdrawal from the league, co-incidentally playing their final Evo-Stik League game at Rainworth. Since then Gee has been out of football, although he has continued to keep his finger on the pulse.
Gee said: “Since being out of the game it’s been nice to spend a bit of time with my family, but I’ve always been involved in football so when I was asked to get involved at Rainworth I jumped at the opportunity.
“I started my playing career 25 years ago at Rainworth. Many of the people involved back then are still there so once I met the board this week I had no hesitation in taking up the position.
“The club has achieved a phenomenal amount of success over recent years.
“Unfortunately results have not been as they would have wished this season and it’s a results-based industry, but the performances I have seen have been encouraging and there is a good blend of experience and youth.
“Hopefully my experiences will help turn similar performances into positive results. I have asked Lee, and he has agreed, to remain with me and I will be looking to bring in a first team coach shortly.
“But there is no magic wand that will turn things around straight away – it’s all about hard work and application, and remaining together as a group both on and off the field.
“Our first aim is to ensure that we keep the team spirit going in the dressing room through this transitional period and start to try and climb the table, although our main objective for this season must be to retain our Evo-Stik League membership come April.
“The fans are going to play a huge part over the next 26 weeks, so I hope everyone gets behind the club, especially when we don’t win games as that’s when it’s especially important. This is a hard division, but Rainworth is no different to any other club.
“However, when games are close you’ve got to turn those close games into points, so at the end of April, if we are above two other clubs in the division, I’ll be delighted.”
Rainworth will be looking to raise valuable funds for their adopted charity, the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, when they entertain local rivals Ilkeston in an Evo-Stik NPL Division One South fixture on Saturday.
The Robins are likely to bring a large following and, with near neighbours Mansfield Town out of action that day, Rainworth hope Stags fans will swell the attendance further.
The Wrens announced in pre-season that, when a fixture does not clash with a Mansfield home game, Stags season ticket holders will be admitted to Kirklington Road at the concessionary rate.