Toolstation NCEL Division One
Lee Morris does not do easy jobs. Since leaving his comfortable position as assistant manager of Shaw Lane AFC in February 2016, the current Worsbrough Bridge chief has taken on some of the most difficult tasks imaginable.
Goole AFC, without a win in nine games was his first point of call, before winless after six games Frickley Athletic came calling in September 2016. He did a good job before his controversial sacking this time last year.
Now the former Buxton poster boy is attempting to keep one of the NCEL’s founder members from dropping into the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior League.
There’s been a lot of low moments, with Wednesday’s 6-3 defeat to Retford United being a very a notable one. He has seriously contemplated quitting, more so when his assistants James Kay and Rhys Meynell left, but Morris has no intention of stepping aside after a period of reflection.
He feels his players and the club are fully behind him, and now re-energised by his new assistant David Taylor and the 1-1 draw with Selby Town, Morris intends to see the job through to its finish.
“I’ve thought about packing in numerous times, my wife says it all the time,” Morris told Non League Yorkshire.
“But there is something drilled into me that won’t let me pack in. Whilst the likes of (vice-chairman and secretary) Mark Booth are around this place, I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere.
“I feel comfortable here. I like the club and it is local, it is five minutes from my house. I just want us to get through this sticky bit.
“I have to be honest though, I was close to packing in after Wednesday (defeat to Retford). It has been tough and I don’t do easy things. It was tough at Goole and certainly not easy at Frickley and then I took this over.
“The other time I pondered my future was when (my assistants) Rhys Meynell and James Kay left. I did go and sit with a pint to think whether it was time to pack in. I thought ‘is it going to better off if I left’?
“But I didn’t, I carried on and I carried on for them lads. They have run through brick walls for me since I have been here. Now DT (David Taylor) has come down and he’s made a good impact.
“His influence since he has been here has been magnificent. Things are working well at the minute.”
Apart from the Retford debacle, recent performances have been good and Morris commends his players for them. However, with time running out – precisely ten games – it is do-or-die and their good displays need to be turned into victories.
“Performances against the teams at the top of the league have excellent, but against the teams around us like Retford, we haven’t performed,” he said.
“I’ve said to the players that they must think if we perform well against the top sides then it will be easy when we play the teams around us.
“I questioned the mentality for when we play the teams around us. Since I’ve been here, we’ve only beaten East Yorkshire Carnegie and FC Bolsover from the teams around us.
“That’s not good enough. I don’t worry about things when we play the top teams because they get up for it. It is the Retfords, Briggs, the Armthorpes that we have to perform for. The mentality has to change.
“While we can talk about performances and how good or bad they are, we have to start getting results. I couldn’t give a monkeys about performances, it is all about points now.
“For me, today’s draw is a point towards safety. We are in a scary position, but it is in our hands and we have the games-in-hand. I’d prefer to be in this situation than being Brigg or Retford at this moment in time.”
Ben Grech-Brooksbank’s first half header earned Worsbrough their precious point. His opener was eventually cancelled out by Selby’s Gary Collier early in the second half.
Selby had the more notable chances, but Worsbrough were resolute in defence and did have opportunities of their own.
“The result was probably fair because we could have scored a couple more,” Morris said.
“Yeah they hit the crossbar three times. They are not sixth in the league for nothing. The front three, especially Liam Flanagan, are a step above this level.
“For us to compete against with a team near the top of the league like we have been doing is fair play to the players.
“We did ride our luck, but you have got to do against teams in the play-offs and ones who are pushing for the title.”
Morris also reserved praise for his back four. Having resisted the temptation to drop players from the Retford defeat, he gave them a second chance and they did him proud.
“Wednesday hurt and it hurt a lot of the lads, but I kept the faith in them,” he added.
“It would have been quite easy for me to come in and change the back four. I made it public that it was the worst defensive performance I have seen in 21 years of being involved in Non League football.
“I kept the faith because I thought it was a blip and it showed today because they defended very well against a team that were sixth in the league.”
Ten more similar defensive displays are needed if Worsbrough are to survive.