Frustrated Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe quits club after eight months

Tony Thorpe has cited his own unrealistic expectations for his decision to step down as manager of Melton Town after just eight months in charge.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 8:30 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:35 am
Tony Thorpe (left) with new co-manager Steve Hendey EMN-171101-112713002

The former £1 million striker left the club following Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to Blackstones, having taken over at the United Counties League side last July.

Steve Hendey, who came out of retirement to become co-manager with Thorpe in January, will take the reins for the final six games of the season.

Town lie 12th in Division One in their first season of UCL football, with Thorpe growing increasingly frustrated that progress couldn’t match his ambitions.

Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe was a £1 million player in his professional days EMN-161123-121047002

He initially declined an approach from an undisclosed Evostik League club a month ago, but is now in negotiations for a possible role for next season.

“I will have five weeks off to spend more time with my family rather than stay for the sake of it,” said Thorpe.

“Since Christmas I was thinking about where the club was heading and whether the players could meet my ambitions.

“It has been a very difficult season with one thing and another, but all in all I have enjoyed the majority of it.

Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe was a £1 million player in his professional days EMN-161123-121047002

“Unfortunately I feel it is the right time to move on and with the opportunities that have been offered to me four or five leagues higher, I would be foolish not to consider them,

“Evostik League standard is very good and is more professional which fits my background. But we are still only in negotiations; I may take one and I may not.”

After a stuttering start to the season, a run of seven wins in nine matches lifted Melton to fifth, just five points off top spot in late October.

But it would prove a high water mark for their season and a struggle to bring in new players, particularly in defence, frustrated Thorpe as the team slipped down the table.

A fall-out with vice-captain Adam Bishop in February saw the forward leave the club along with leading scorer Ash Palfreyman and Shannon Myring.

The incident reminded Thorpe of the task he faced getting the discipline he demanded off the field.

But the former Bristol City and Luton Town striker refused to put his decision down to the players’ attitude, despite admitting the team had underachieved.

“Maybe I have been too loyal to some of the players,” he added. “But I can’t blame these players. They have given me their all; it’s just not been good enough.

“Personally I think the club needs a coach for that level of football and perhaps with less ambition than I have.

“I was going to give it another year, but there was a breakdown in communication with one or two things and I decided to leave.

“The club are in good shape and have great people behind the scenes, but I hope Steve can get a bit more out of the lads between now and the end of the season.

“I want to wish Melton all the best. They are going forward, but just aren’t ready yet.”

Town chairman Sam Ellis believes Thorpe may have been over-qualified for Melton in their current position.

“Tony was finding football at this level quite frustrating at times,” he said.

“He was a breath of fresh air to our club, especially with his professionalism, but there is a gulf in attitude towards the game between professionals and part-time players.

“Part-time players have many other commitments including work and family that sometimes come first. It will always be a problem at this level as players do not get paid to play so their priorities understandably lay elsewhere.

“It doesn’t make them any less passionate, or in some cases any less of a player, but I think Tony needed more time to mould the players into his vision and, as part-timers, there was never enough time to enact this.”