Tong comes home to the Wellesley
PUBLISHED: 10:10 20 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:16 03 July 2010
"I look upon it as coming back home really." Thus reflected Paul Tong this week on accepting the offer to return to management at Great Yarmouth Town FC - albeit in partnership with Kevin Cruickshank, writes Gerry Brown.
“I look upon it as coming back home really.” Thus reflected Paul Tong this week on accepting the offer to return to management at Great Yarmouth Town FC - albeit in partnership with Kevin Cruickshank, writes Gerry Brown.
“In all my years in football I look upon Yarmouth as my club, and the one that gave me probably my greatest pleasure and success in the game.”
Looking back to when he last departed the Wellesley in 2004, Tong said: “When I left then, it was because after seven years there comes a time when you think you've taken it as far as you can. I worked with the best chairman ever - Arthur Fisk - and even though we sometimes had to agree to disagree it was always in the interests of the club. He had a big part in my coming back.
“And when you have ex-pro players like Greg Downs and Tony Spearing saying they've had some of their best times in football at this club, then we must have done something right!”
When the possibility of his being asked back to Yarmouth arose, Tong said he would not consider it without first talking to Cruickshank.
“I kept Kevin informed all the way through as I personally think he has done a splendid job.
“I respect the fact that he picked up the reins when nobody else wanted to, I
take my hat off to that! He's done well and has got together the basis of a
“He's done better than a lot of people give him credit for, and now with my experience and his enthusiasm we can help this club get better and that's what it's all about.
“I watched a couple of Yarmouth's games after I left Diss, and I like the freshness of the team, the enthusiasm, the abundance of youth, and I'm all for that. Our aim now will be to bring a bit more experience into the team.
“Of course, we now have Stewie Roach back - and in all my years in football he is the best striker I've ever been involved with. He's a senior player but I feel we just lack a little experience in certain areas - but Kevin and I are working
On his past exchanges with Roach, Tong explained: “We're both winners, Stewart and I, and he's done well. Any past differences are behind us. At the end of the day it's about the club not about
“I respect Stewart, he's doing a great
job for the team, we need him as part of the set-up and he is happy to be
On his relationship with the new chairman, Tong commented: “Steve wants to take the club forward and that also tempted me to come back.
“It's not going to happen overnight but the club has to change and move on, we all acknowledge that, and it looks like Steve is the man to do it, with his helpers and others concerned.
“That's what excites you really. He cares about the club and it's not just a flash in the pan. He talks long-term about the club and where he wants to take it.
If I can help along the way with my experience then so be it.”
Of the teams likely to be challenging for honours next season, he thought Diss, Gorleston and Saffron Walden would be up there but warned that the teams that came down - Newmarket, Swaffham and Ipswich Wanderers - would all be looking for a quick return to the Premier Division.
“My dark horses would be new team Brantham Athletic,” Tong said. “They have the ex-Sudbury manager there now, so will have the wherewithal to go places.”
As far as Yarmouth is concerned next season, Tong said he was looking for a top-six position.
“We would certainly aim to improve on last year and a top-six finish would allow us to aspire to greater heights the following season.
“Yarmouth are as good as anyone on their day but we will need consistency.
“Hopefully, we can all be part of the club moving forward. I'm excited about it and I hope others will be too.”