WHAT A CAREER: Ross Hannah celebrates scoring for Barrow
By Matt Badcock
Gainsborough Trinity fans can rest assured at how seriously interim management team Liam King and Ross Hannah are taking the Blues’ play-off chase – they went on a scouting mission rather than a team night out!
Three wins from their first three Northern Premier League games has seen caretaker boss King and assistant Hannah placed in charge until the end of the season.
The points have helped get Trinity’s promotion push back on track following a poor run that saw Lee Sinnott leave the dug-out.
They’re determined to make their mark at Trinity no matter what the long-term outcome is –and that showed by changing plans to take in yesterday’s opponents Basford United last weekend.
“We knew for ages we had a free Saturday last weekend so we’d always said we’d train and then have a team night out,” Hannah told The NLP.
“Last week me and Liam said, ‘We should really go and watch Basford’. Liam was going anyway but I agreed with it because if we’re doing it, we’re doing it right. That’s the approach we’re taking. So we went to Basford – and also with Liam Hearn and Dom Roma taking over we needed to.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we don’t want to be manager and assistant in the future because we don’t know anything else apart from football. But it’s ruthless. You’re judged by your results.”
That’s proven so far with chairman Richard Kane – “he’s been fantastic,” Hannah adds – handing them the keys despite the “impressive list” of applicants.
Midfielder King had actually cancelled his Trinity contract just days before Sinnott departed in order to focus on recovering from a lower back injury that has ruined his season before a swift return to Northolme.
Striker Hannah has been alongside him in the dugout while he recovers from an injury of his own, although reiterates he is fully focused on playing long-term and feels as fit as ever.
Pals from their Matlock Town days, King is married to Hannah’s sister, Jessica, who is also best friends with Hannah’s fiancé Rebecca
And the pair, who work together for Mini Kicks, are already getting to grips with the juggle of management and family life.
“Obviously we’re both football through and through and I think they knew what was coming when we did agree to take it on,” Hannah said. “They’re trying to put little phone bans on us when it’s time for family time.
“But it’s difficult, that’s the thing. They both understand, sand are fully behind us, but it’s hard to switch off. For the four of five weeks we’ve been in charge it’s been non-stop. You’re constantly speaking to your players, the physio, people at the club to arrange stuff you wouldn’t even think about because it’s all done for you as a player.
“Another thing is, the amount of people you come across – I’ve always been one to build good relationships and never burn bridges – and now I’m reaping the benefits because there’s a lot of people I can speak to. Whether it’s a bit of experience or advice, a player or someone who knows a player – it’s massive.”
Both bring a wealth of playing experience with King, 31, captaining North Ferriby to FA Trophy glory and promotion up the leagues to Step 1, and Hannah, 32, a proven goalscorer with Grimsby Town and Chester in the National League.
Hannah admits the feeling of having responsibility for the first team has been surreal, but says it’s one they’re enjoying.
And after their good start, they want to keep pushing forward and make sure Trinity have a shot at the Step 3 play-offs come the end of the season.
“We haven’t done anything dramatic changes wise,” Hannah explained. “We’ve obviously been involved in the changing room, at training and match days all season and we’ve seen where we’ve been at and what happened towards the end.
“We just felt little things needed tweaking and that’s all we’ve done. The main thing has been to lift everyone and give the whole club belief we can finish in the play-offs.
“We did set out to win the league. Obviously we fell quite behind on that so the next target is the play-offs.
“If we finish outside the play-offs it’s not been a good season for Gainsborough. Things have happened during the season, but from the start if you said Gainsborough wouldn’t get in the play-offs, you could suggest that’s a failure really.
“So we tried to instil that belief into the lads. They’ve taken it on board and been absolutely top drawer. I can’t say enough good things about them.”