Ian Long is determined to pull off a Great Escape at Alvechurch and prove any suggestions the Stourbridge job was too big for him are well wide of the mark.
After taking the Churchmen from Step 5 to Step 3 in consecutive seasons before narrowly missing out on a third promotion in last season’s play-offs, Long made the switch to Stourbridge last summer.
But he was a surprise departure last week despite the Glassboys, who’ve since appointed former Kidderminster manager Mark Yates, sitting just outside the BetVictor Southern Premier Central play-offs having also reaching the first round of the FA Cup.
Long, pictured, was offered two jobs on the very day his exit was announced and didn’t even contemplate a break as he made a swift return to the club where he enjoyed success after success to battle against relegation.
— Alvechurch FC (@Alvechurch1st) February 26, 2020
“I understand their Step 3 status is in jeopardy and I know we’ve got a big task on our hands,” Long told The Non-League Paper this week. “We hope we can do it and get them out of it – it will be one of the greatest escapes if we do.
“Obviously we’re 11 points from safety, there’s games in hand, but you’re down there for a reason because you haven’t been winning games of football. So we’ve got to try and turn them round. We played them recently with Stourbridge and they weren’t far off.
“There are good people at Alvechurch. It was only the draw of Stourbridge really and the possibility we would have lost a lot of players in the summer – we knew we were going to be pilfered at the end of last season by the clubs with bigger budgets.
“We had a great four years there, a really successful four years and winning lots of trophies. It was going to be difficult and we wanted a crack at it. It’s a good club Stourbridge, a big club with a decent fanbase. For whatever reason it just hasn’t worked out.
“I’m sure people will be saying it was too big for me but that’s a ridiculous statement. It’s not as if they’ve just come down from the Football League. I’m just gutted we didn’t get until the end of the season.
“But it was never an option of being out of the game for long. I was always going to take something to get back in as quick as possible – I don’t think I’d cope without football!”
Long, who left Church with his management team to replace long-serving Stour boss Garry Hackett, admits only getting six months in the hot-seat was tough to take,
“We got to the first round of the FA Cup, which is a regular occurrence down there but I don’t think it should be taken for granted because it’s a good achievement,” Long insisted.
“It wasn’t as if we were unaware we’d got issues and we weren’t playing well because it was something we were trying to remedy. It’s football. It’s an industry like no other at all levels. Nothing should ever surprise you in football really.
“We still had the top sides to play – which could have been a good thing or a bad thing depending how the games went – but I’m just disappointed. I didn’t feel we were given long enough to get the job done.”
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday for the latest news and action from across Non-League over the last seven days. As well as exclusive match reports and pictures from all of Saturday’s fixtures in the Vanarama National League, the BetVictor-Sponsored Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League, The Non-League Paper’s live coverage extends all the way to Steps 5 and 6.