WHEN Tom Killick became Poole Town manager in 2004 they were sharing changing rooms with the opposition and the pitch perimeter was a rope.
Almost 13 years later he’s led the club from the Wessex League Division One to the National League South play-off chase and took charge of his 700th Dolphins’ game last Saturday.
Killick’s side are thriving in their debut Step 2 season and sit fourth in the table ahead of Saturday’s visit of St Albans.
But the boss knows the club’s next big challenge is to secure the finances – around £70,000 – to make sure their ground is up to scratch for the level by March 31 so they can stay there.
Former striker Charlie Austin has donated use of his box at Southampton if it can help the club attract funds – and Killick says his team can play their part by getting results.
He said: “In Wessex Division One you’re playing at community changing rooms where both teams would be in it. I’ve got fond memories of those days. There was less pressure then, because you’re playing in front of one man and his dog.
“Now we’re playing at places like Ebbsfleet. You can see the infrastructure, the level of support, even things like the pitch. We’re playing on surfaces good enough for the Football League. In the Wessex days, you almost had to get the cows off the pitch to start the game.
“So I never take for granted where we are, but perhaps now as a club we face one of our biggest battles in trying to get our facilities to where we need them to be by the end of March. If we don’t, we’ll potentially get relegated.
“You worry about it, you can’t stop, but you can’t let it impact us on the pitch. The higher the club’s profile, in terms of success on the pitch, the better the chance of attracting sponsorship and financial input.
“The growth the club has had is phenomenal and we need a little bit of help. It nearly killed us, emotionally and physically, getting out of the league below. To have that taken away from us would be absolute heartbreak for everybody connected to the club.”
Killick says seeing how far the club have come in his 700 games fills him with pride, but he’s not taking all the plaudits.
“It’s the people who run the club that drive it forward and make sure the finances and facilities are capable of achieving,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of very good people helping me on the management side and the group of players we’ve assembled over the last few years particularly have been a pleasure to work with.”