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New Academy management duo will hit the ground running


By Matt Leslie

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Wick Academy's Gary Manson (right) has taken over as co-manager of the club alongside Stewart Ross. Picture: Mel Roger
Wick Academy's Gary Manson (right) has taken over as co-manager of the club alongside Stewart Ross. Picture: Mel Roger

Gary Manson has assured Wick Academy fans that he and Stewart Ross will hit the ground running after being appointed as joint managers.

The pair have been installed until the end of the season following the departure of previous Harmsworth Park boss Tom McKenna at the end of last week.

Manson (36) said: "Myself and Stewart go back a long way so it won't be a case of getting used to one another.

"We've played alongside each other for Wick Academy and we've also applied for the job in the past – as joint managers.

"This was a few years ago [2011, after joint bosses Ian Munro and Richard Hughes had vacated the dugout] when we both didn't see anyone around who was suitable for the post.

"In hindsight, we were not ready for the step up, as did the board, who appointed Davie Kirkwood.

"However, myself and Stewart go way back. We both went to Elgin to do an HND course together. Afterwards he went to university and I returned home.

Stewart Ross (left) and Gary Manson are Wick Academy's new management team.
Stewart Ross (left) and Gary Manson are Wick Academy's new management team.

"Ross County asked me to run an under-14 development squad for them up here. I would coach youngsters for Ross County and move the best ones back down to them.

"Stewart and I, around eight or nine years ago, were asked by the SFA to run a 2020 centre which was part of a nationwide scheme for these centres to coach youngsters aged 12 and 13 with a view to them playing for senior clubs in the year 2020.

"Stewart has coached with Wick Groats and I've been involved with the set-up at Pentland United for the last two or three years.

While a new management coming in usually gets a reaction, there was a marked improvement on before.

"When I was approached by Wick Academy to take the post, I said that yes I was interested but I need the right guy with me. That was Stewart, and he agreed to join me in taking on the position."

Manson holds the club record for competitive appearances, having played 662 times for Academy and scored 50 goals.

However, last week, to the rest of the squad, he was "Gary Manson their team-mate". Now he's "Gary Manson their boss". So how will both he and the squad deal with the transition?

Manson said: "I don't think the boss thing will make a difference. There is an age gap between myself and the rest of the players. I think the nearest player in age to me is four years younger.

"Whenever Tom was unable to take training, I used to do it so the sight of me doing that won't be that much of a new thing.

"We've already had our first session together since I took the job and, while a new management coming in usually gets a reaction, there was a marked improvement on before.

"As for my own playing career, I will still be available. I've no qualms about playing but I also have no qualms about not playing.

"Whether I play or not will probably depend on the availability of the rest of the squad and which team we happen to be playing against.

"If there is a team we're playing and I know that I can bring something in particular that will work for us against a particular team, I will be available."

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the club said: "Wick Academy are delighted to announce that Gary Manson and Stewart Ross have been appointed as the new management team until the end of the season. The club will take their time to consider all options during this period with the goal of having someone permanently in position for the start of pre-season."

Meanwhile, Academy chairman Pat Miller made it clear that he still sees Richard Hughes as having an important role at the club.

Hughes, known as "Tichie", has had a long association with Academy, both as a player and in a coaching capacity, and he was assistant manager under McKenna.

"At the moment Tichie is stepping back to give Gary and Stewart full rein," Miller said. "But he definitely still has a role within the club, and the nature of that role will be confirmed soon."



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