Wealdstone’s new boss has big ambitions but is in no rush

By his own admission, Wealdstone’s new manager Bobby Wilkinson isn’t a man in a hurry.

Wilkinson spent seven seasons in charge at Hungerford Town – a stint that looks somewhat fleeting compared with the 22-year epoch of his predecessor as Stones boss, Gordon Bartlett.

But the 40-year-old, who began his tenure with successive 1-1 draws against Eastbourne Borough and Hemel Hempstead, is very much in for the long haul at Wealdstone.

“I need people to bear with me and believe that we can turn it around, but I can’t do it overnight,” Wilkinson told West London Sport.

“We’ve got to start believing we can climb up the table and get a run going. At my previous clubs I got great runs going – it takes me time but I think the best I had was 19 games unbeaten.

Gordon Bartlett, Wealdstone manager
Bartlett is credited with turning Wealdstone’s fortunes around

“Anyone who knows me knows I want to manage in the (professional) leagues and I’m going to manage in the leagues, but I’m in no rush. The potential is huge at this club.

“The fans were a big attraction, but most of all the chairman, Peter Marsden, sold me the dream. He knew a few other clubs had come knocking for me in the last year or two and I hadn’t gone because it wasn’t the right move.

“This is definitely the right move, even though there’s a lot of hard work to do. I was comfortable where I was but deep down I needed the new challenge and drive, just like the club did.

“And I would never have come here worrying about who was here before me. The last manager did a fantastic job, he’s his own man and I’m my own man.”

Wilkinson is undaunted by the shadow of Wealdstone’s history; the double-winning glory of the 1980s, their subsequent decline and years of homelessness and then revival under Bartlett.

His motivation to succeed is more driven by recent events at Hungerford.

Having guided them into a National League South play-off position last season, he then learned the club had failed to make the necessary stadium upgrade to be eligible from promotion.

There are no such concerns for Wealdstone, who added an extra section of covered seating to their Grosvenor Vale ground earlier this year.

The more pressing issue is Stones’ sluggish start to the season. They have slipped into the bottom three after winning just one of their first seven games.

But Wilkinson is optimistic that his recent additions to the squad – midfielders Luke Williams and Kaid Mohamed have been brought in along with defender Matt Day and striker Jermaine Osei – will bring dividends.

“We were short on numbers,” he added. “A lot of people were knocking the youngsters out wide [against Hemel Hempstead] and maybe they could have done better and worked harder, but they’ve got no competition.

“If you’ve got no competition, you’re going to have a little bit of a cigar, aren’t you? I don’t want that cigar – what I want is to wait until the end, then light the cigar up and smoke it.”