Great Non League managers of the last 25 years

We have picked our personal top 13 Yorkshire-based Non League managers of the last 25 years (in alphabetical order). Like previous lists, these are personal choices, it is not a definitive list. You may have different views.

Neil Aspin 

Former FC Halifax Town and Harrogate Town manager Neil Aspin

When Neil Aspin was appointed manager of Port Vale in 2017, the Football League calling was years overdue.

If I became a chairman of a Football Club tomorrow, he would be one of the names on the shortlist. 

He was phenomenal for FC Halifax, winning three promotions in four years and then overachieving by reaching the National League play-offs in the club’s first season back in Non League’s top flight.

His four-year piece of work with Harrogate Town before Simon Weaver’s arrival was 2009 was also a triumph with the resources at his disposal.

Wayne Benn 

Former Hemsworth Miners Welfare manager Wayne Benn

Current Ossett Albion manager Wayne Benn transformed the fortunes of Hemsworth Miners Welfare over seven years, taking them to a point where the club is ready for promotion to the NPL. The well-deserved NCEL Division One title win in 2016 is the main accolade. But his development of young players is also big tick on his CV and the likes of Harry Viggars and Nash Connolly are two examples of him giving youth a chance to flourish.

Craig Elliott 

Craig Elliott performed miracles at Glasshoughton Welfare and Ossett Town before winning three promotions with Shaw Lane and one Sheffield Senior Cup. He also took them to the FA Cup First Round proper.

Non League Yorkshire’s manager of the decade Craig Elliott has a long list of success and promotions behind with one each with Kellingley and Glasshoughton and then three in four years with Shaw Lane. He also has a Wilkinson Sword Trophy win, two televised FA Cup matches and a Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup winners medal. Now working miracles at Boston United in the National North.

Brian France

Former North Ferriby and Scarborough manager Brian France

Brian France, who sadly passed away in 2012, is best remembered for winning promotions with North Ferriby and Scarborough Athletic. He also gave Gary Bradshaw his first chance at North Ferriby.

Eric Gilchrist 

Former Ossett Albion manager Eric Gilchrist

The Ossett Albion legend remains a hugely popular figure, especially to those who played under him. He managed Albion to promotion out of the NCEL and over his ten year stint at Dimple Wells turned them into NPL Division One play-offs contenders. Keeping Liversedge in the NCEL Premier Division in 1998 with a final day 0-0 draw at Armthorpe Welfare (thanks to goalkeeper Richard Biddy) is also on his list of achievements.

Ronnie Glavin

Ronnie Glavin guided Emley to the FA Cup third round in 1998

Ronnie Glavin’s achievement of guiding Emley to the FA Cup third round in 1998 is likely to be repeated. The fact that the Northern Premier League side were so unlucky against Premier League West Ham makes it even more special.

Billy Heath 

Billy Heath has won countless promotions

Two promotions with Bridlington Town in the early 2000s, a further two with North Ferriby plus a FA Trophy win at Wembley and a solitary promotion with FC Halifax puts Billy Heath on the list.

Steve Kittrick 

Steve Kittrick is best known for winning promotions with Guiseley and Scarborough

People will say he didn’t do very well with Pontefract Collieries, AFC Telford and Matlock Town, but his records with Guiseley, Scarborough Athletic and Ossett Town and even Glasshoughton in the mid-1990s are impressive. He won the NPL Premier Division title for Guiseley in the most dramatic circumstances on the final day of the 2009/10 season. He was then seconds away from propelling Guiseley into the Conference National 12 months later until AFC Telford cruelly twice deep into the play-off final. Promotion with Scarborough was won in recent years.

Paul Marshall 

Garforth Town manager Paul Marshall led Harrogate Railway to the FA Cup second round proper in 2002

Harrogate Railway’s FA Cup second round tie with Bristol City in 2002 will be forever associated with current Garforth Town manager Paul Marshall. But his later landmark achievements with Goole AFC, Tadcaster Albion and Pickering Town mark him as one of the most successful Yorkshire-based Non League managers of the last 25 years.

Craig Parry

Pontefract Collieries manager Craig Parry

In the same way Ian Richard and Wayne Benn have, Craig Parry has guided his club Pontefract Collieries to unprecedented heights. The Colls are enjoying their greater ever period and sit in the NPL after consecutive promotions took them from the NCEL Division One to the NPL Division One North.

John Reed

John Reed is regarded as a legendary Non League manager

You can go back further than 25 years with John Reed as he guided Bridlington Town to Wembley in the FA Vase Final in 1990. Popular figure Reed continued his managerial career with promotions with Harrogate Town and Goole AFC, plus a NCEL Premier Division title with Hatfield Main. He also enjoyed a memorable spell with Buxton.

Ian Richards 

Penistone Church manager Ian Richards

Ian Richards has been a visionary for his hometown club Penistone Church. The former Stocksbridge Park Steels midfielder lifted Church from the doldrums of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior League and into Toolstation NCEL Premier Division over seven years – alongside a NCEL League Cup final victory at Bramall Lane. Church also came close to promotion to the NPL last season.

Lee Sinnott

Lee Sinnott led Farsley Celtic to three promotions in four seasons

Lee Sinnott took Farsley Celtic on an unforgettable journey with three promotions in four seasons (four promotions if you include the infamous 2004-05 campaign) – lifting the West Leeds village club from the old NPL Division One to the Conference National. The former Bradford City defender also guided Altrincham to promotion later in his managerial career.

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