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CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Bluebirds start hunt for Rudge's successor
CHAIRMAN Neil Blackmore did not expect to be searching for a new manager just a week into the new season – but that is the task facing the Chippenham Town chief after Nathan Rudge’s shock exit yesterday.
Rudge, 34, offered his resignation on Wednesday morning, following the Bluebirds’ last-gasp 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Poole Town – their second of the new campaign.
Steve Winter, who joined the club last month as assistant manager, has been placed in caretaker charge and has indicated his interest in the role permanently as the hunt for a new boss gets underway.
Blackmore says he had no choice but to respect Rudge’s personal reasons for bringing his spell in charge of the Bluebirds to an end.
Blackmore, who is in his first season at the Hardenhuish Park helm, said: “Nathan rang me on Wednesday morning and said that he wasn’t happy with the way things were going and that it was affecting his home life.
“He said that he wanted to hand in his resignation and, at the end of the day, it’s only the game of football.
“If that’s the case, then I think that it’s the right decision for him.
“I know that it’s easy to say you can’t bring the game back home with you and if it’s affecting things at home, then that’s not right.
“But it’s a bitter blow for the football club.
“I’ve developed a good relationship with Nathan and we put faith in him when we appointed him as our manager (in April 2012).
“We had a difficult season last year but I think that we were both ready to roll up our sleeves and battle to do better this year.
“But now we’ve got to try and move on and look for a new manager.
“It’s something that I wasn’t expecting to have to do but we’re not going to rush because I’ve got faith in Steve Winter to do a good job as caretaker.”
Winter, who spent time at Torquay United and Tiverton Town as a player, and also had a brief three-month spell at Hardenhuish Park, says that his first task will be to get the squad focused on this Bank Holiday weekend’s double-header against Hitchin Town and Frome Town.
He also says that he’d be interested in taking on the job on a permanent basis.
“I wasn’t expecting it really and I can’t really speak for Nath but this kind of thing happens in football,” said Winter, who was assistant manager at Western League Bishop Sutton last season.
“I don’t think that there’s ever a good time to leave a club but that’s what’s happened and we’ve got to try and move on from it as soon as we can.
“Pre-season had been really good and I’d enjoyed working with Nath but the important thing now is to get the lads focussed on Saturday’s game.
“Without blowing my own trumpet, I’ve had an alright career with 50-odd appearances in the league and I’ve played in the Conference too. At Bishop Sutton last year we won the league at a canter.
“I don’t know what the board want to do but if the opportunity is there, I’d love to have the chance to take the team forward.”
Rudge, who was unavilable for comment before the Gazette & Herald went to press yesterday, took over as player-manager in April 2012, taking on first-team affairs as previous boss Adie Mings stepped up to become director of football.
In his first full season in charge, Chippenham came agonisingly close to reaching the first round of the FA Cup before they fell to a late goal against Gloucester City at Cheltenham Town’s Whaddon Road ground.
In the league, the Bluebirds suffered a horror 17-match winless run mid-season and flirted with relegation before recovering with seven wins in succession to eventually finish 15th.
This season started controversially as Rudge was slapped with a four-match touchline ban and fine after being found guilty of an FA misconduct charge relating to racially aggravated comments at an FA Cup clash against Bishops Cleeve last season.
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