Former manager Iain Parr looks to the future as a director of St Neots Town

Former St Neots Town manager Iain Parr. Picture: Helen Drake.

Former St Neots Town manager Iain Parr. Picture: Helen Drake. - Credit: Archant

Ian Parr says St Neots Town have a bright future and will avoid relegation, despite agreeing to step down as manager of the Southern League club ahead of their defeat in the FA Trophy at Matlock Town on Saturday.

The Saints lost 2-0 in Derbyshire with Parr telling the players it would be his last game in charge just an hour before kick-off. He has accepted a place on the board and becomes a director as he continues to work behind the scenes on the club’s burgeoning youth apprenticeship scheme.

“The decision was an obvious pathway to take for me personally, my family and the football club,” Parr told The Hunts Post on Monday. “And new first team input will assure stability this season. I am now looking forward to developing the club into the best non-league club in the area, region, country.”

Parr became the manager 18 months ago when Dennis Greene left the position following two promotions in two years. With new budget constraints, he guided the Saints to 12th place in the Premier Division of the Southern League last season but the team have only won two games from 13 this time around and sit one place off the bottom of the table with just six points accrued.

Parr said he spoke to Lee Kearns, the club’s managing director, last week. “He came out with it off the cuff,

Lee said that he felt it was effecting me personally and that he had taken a step back and clearly saw it as a two-person job.

“There was never a moment when he said ‘make a choice’ or ‘this is what we think you should do’ ... I didn’t feel like I was pressured into it, I just felt like it was the right decision.”

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Kearns expects to make an appointment before the weekend with the club at home to one the division’s strongest teams Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday.

“Anyone worth his salt would be interested,” said Kearns. “We want to make sure that whoever comes in can work with everyone here. The process is going as expected and I expect we will have someone in place by the weekend.

“We are delighted Iain has accepted a place on the board and he will now focus on other aspects at the club. You can’t have success at the top unless you have the right foundations.”

It was is a shame but St Neots saved one of their best performances for Parr’s last. In the end it was goals from Micky Harcourt and Danny Holland that put a dampener on his finale in the Derbyshire Peak District – but the team were unlucky with early chances from Hilliard and Lewis Wilson both well saved by the goalkeeper Jon Kennedy.

Despite major changes in playing staff since the arrival of former Arlesey Town manager Gary King as Parr’s assistant, and their lowly position in the league, the visitors put on a decent show for their departing manager.

So, moving on: what does Parr think about the past, the present, and the future of St Neots Town?

On the October 27, 1984, Parr made his debut for St Neots’s reserve team against Corby Gainsborough. Almost exactly 29 years later his tenure as manager ended. He is proud that he played for the club’s youth teams, reserve team and first team and has worked hard to gain his qualifications as a football coach.

“I spoke to the players before the game on Saturday and told them [that he would be leaving] and I started with: ‘29 years ago I made my debut for the reserves – blah, blah, blah. And I explained to them what I had been offered and that was what I had chosen to do.

“The club’s in good hands and I can quite clearly see that in two months’ time we will be higher than we are now. That’s not going to take much but with the players we now have ... and when they are all fit and playing, I think we will be fine.”

Recent links forged by Parr with Norwich City have opened up the chance of St Neots taking the pick of the Premier League club’s second year scholars on loan. Luton Town are also exploring avenues that might mutually benefit both clubs.

“To think that a club like St Neots has the opportunity of taking second year scholars on loan from Norwich City is unheard of,” said Parr.

Things maybe moved too quickly for Parr. He recently bought in Dave Deeney – just the kind of player he would have liked to had at the club at the start of the season. And he admits that losing players like Stefan Moore, Ben Mackey and Dan Jacob was never going to be easy to get over

“You need that kind of experience in a squad,” he said. “If I could change one thing, I would have had a good chat with Stefan Moore.”

Too much change too quickly then. And it was with a heavy heart that the manager stepped down.

The new man, whoever he turns out to be, possibly Parr’s former assistant King, will apparently be in situ by the weekend. He will have Parr to lean on as another new era begins at a club now fully focussed on building for the future. But, as Parr found out last week, building for the future and dealing with the now are jobs for more than one man.