McConnell: Amateur League is not for me

Graham McConnell.
Graham McConnell.
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Graham McConnell has stepped down as manager of Amateur League side Wellington Rec after just under a year in the post.

The former Larne boss told the Times: “It’s not a spur of the moment thing. I had already told the chairman, Jeff Carmichael, last week that Saturday would be my last game. The committee had asked me to reconsider, but I’ve realised the Amateur League is not for me. It had nothing to do with results. We’re third in the league.

Graham McConnell

Graham McConnell

“I’m happy that in the year I was there a lot of good work was done. I always think as a manager you should leave a club better than you found it and I believe I’ve done that, even though we’re now in Division 1b while we were in 1A when I took over.

“In that year, we’ve achieved a lot, especially with the underage soccer.”

McConnell’s gripe is not with the Brookvale Park club, but with the Amateur League in general.

“I thought I knew all the stories as to why players couldn’t make training or matches, but I’ve heard some new excuses that have even surprised me.

“I gave 110 per cent, as I do any club – but there wasn’t 110 per cent coming back from enough people. I don’t think it’s just a Wellington Rec problem, I think it’s across amateur football.

“I never missed one training session or one match or one club event, which is quite right. It’s not a lot to ask for players to train two nights a week.

“Things at the moment aren’t perfect, but they’re third in 1b and if the players can commit themselves a bit more, then they’ve every opportunity.”

While McConnell insists he is finished with the Amateur League, he hopes he won’t be on the sidelines for long. “People think I’ve been around for a long time, but I’ve only turned 45. I’m still young in managerial terms.

“I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge along the way. I want to pursue my career at a higher level, should that be managing or coaching or in whatever capacity.

“I want to work with players at the top level; players with the same ambitions and professionalism that I have.

“I’ve got a UEFA ‘A’ badge and a UEFA goalkeeping badge and I don’t intend to be out of the game for too long because it’s something that’s in my blood. It just won’t be in the Amateur League.”