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It has been a while since I last wrote some words, so there is a lot to talk about.
A good starting point would be the weekend's result against high-flying Stockport County. Stockport have been on an amazing run, 23 games unbeaten at any level is an incredible achievement and I am sure they will go close for the title this year. We knew it would be a tough game, but we have also been on a great run ourselves, so we were confident. The conditions were very windy and the pitch difficult, but sometimes to be successful you have to win "ugly" and we managed to do that. A special mention to Danny Lewis for some fantastic saves.
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The club is pleased to announce that Kevin Wilkin has signed a new contract keeping him at St James Park for the next two seasons. Kevin has done a terrific job at the club since his arrival in September 2015. Kevin has built a management team and a squad that have brought great success to the club on the pitch and contributed to our continued development off it also.
Janene Butters, Managing Director said, “We are delighted that Kevin has committed his future to Brackley Town. The club has a strong vision to build on recent successes and Kevin has an important part to play in this. We recently announced exciting plans for the further development of our St James Park stadium and Kevin has the backing from the club’s directors to pursue further success on the pitch. The club’s victory at Wembley in 2018 and place in the National League North play-off final were unprecedented and put Brackley Town on the map. Under Kevin Wilkin we look forward to continued success.”
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The Vanarama National League has released details of the opportunity for ALL football fans to purchase Early Bird tickets for their Promotion Final on Saturday 11th May 2019 at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
Tickets are now on sale and will remain available as outlined below direct from Wembley Stadium Ticketing Portal. This offer is only available on-line.
There is also an option for 'Print at Home' (PAH)
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Carl Baker signed for Saints ahead of his debut at Alfreton Town. The midfielder has had a long and successful career in the game and, aged 36, joins Kevin Wilkin’s side from Nuneaton Borough with enthusiasm and ambition undimmed. Carl was captain at Championship side Coventry City making 160 appearances for the Sky Blues. He played for MK Dons, Stockport County and Portsmouth, among others, and enjoyed success early in his career at Southport winning promotion from Conference North with the Sandgrounders. Here Carl speaks to The Red & White about his move to St James Park.
“I had an option to go back into League One with Burton Albion but this really suits me what with my work commitments and my family. Kevin Wilkin was a big factor in wanting to come here and it’s the right decision for me,” Carl says. “We spoke over several weeks, he kept in touch and he made me feel I was wanted here. As a player that’s a nice feeling. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I thought perhaps the opportunity had gone but I am glad now it’s done. It was good to pull on the shirt and play at Alfreton and of course get that win. I really enjoyed it but I knew it would be a difficult first game up there. I’d only trained once with the lads and we knew they would make it difficult. They play it long and are direct with some big players. It was scrappy and it was hard to get on the ball. But I always felt we could get the win. We were pushing and pushing. I looked around and I saw players who I could see had something in them to kick on and give a bit more so it only felt like a matter of time. That’s what good sides do. We didn’t want to come away from there with just a draw. In fairness it wouldn’t have been the worst result to come away from there with one point but for me on my debut I wanted the three points and we did it.”
“At Alfreton, while I didn’t score, I was getting the ball in that final third. I had a shot in the first half that hit one of our players and in the second half I had a chance too. That’s how it goes sometimes. I hope to get the chance here to get into that final third and make things happen for us. That wasn’t happening too much at Nuneaton which became frustrating.”
Baker is not only a footballer who can make a big impact at this level. He is an impressive person, speaking with passion and clarity. Asked about his new team-mates his diplomatic response also rang true. “I said to the manager when I signed that there are really good players here. I have seen it from playing for Nuneaton against Brackley this season,” Carl says. “I know from playing for Nuneaton against most of the sides in this league this season that this is the best footballing team. No-one impressed me as much as Brackley did. Overall really strong. One big team playing for each other, well organised, everybody knowing everybody else’s role. Obviously Gaz Dean stands out and is a great leader. In midfield Shane and Jimmy are great on the ball and I remember Lee because he scored a hat-trick against us!”
Outside of playing, Carl has a young family with three boys and runs his own successful football academy. “I’m nice and busy,” he says. “The move here is ideal because I can do my coaching in the day-time Monday to Friday and train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings,” he says with renewed enthusiasm and obvious pride in the company he has built up. “When I finally finish playing it is more the coaching side that attracts me I think rather than the pressure of management. It is a professional academy, well run, I have good staff and coaches and numbers are strong. I really enjoy coaching the children and to see the improvement they make is a nice feeling. The academy bears my name and I want to stay directly involved so I always try to do some coaching or at least to go along and be there and make an input. I think it’s important for the children and the parents to see I am involved. That’s how I want it to be. I think the plans Brackley have to move in that direction are really exciting.”
Whatever Carl Baker can deliver on the pitch, he will also bring his own burning ambition to be successful. “Promotion is what I’ve come here for,” he states. “I believe it’s possible. It’s going to be tough but, as I’ve said, I’ve not seen a better team. With hard work we can do it. I’ve done it with Southport, MK Dons and Portsmouth and I’d like to add another!”