Mickey Baker is setting his sights high at Wellington Amateurs
New boss Mickey Baker stressed that anything but promotion would be a failure after taking the hot-seat at Wellington Amateurs.
More change at the Fortis Stadium club saw former Wolves and AFC Telford striker Adam Proudlock step down due to other commitments having only taken the job in April.
Baker, who was Proudlock’s No.2, was asked by the club to take on the role having played a big part in building the squad over the close season.
And the former Oakengates Athletic manager, who who was also Proudlock’s assistant at Newport Town, says the foundations are in place to leave ‘no excuses’ if Amateurs are not among the challengers for promotion from West Midlands Division One this season.
Amateurs appointed Lee Mitchell and Carl Probert last summer as the club took on management, staff and players from the now disbanded Oakengates Athletic.
Proudlock and Baker were brought in during another reshuffle before the end of the season.
“There’s a lot going on here off and on the pitch,” said Baker, who has moved to bring in former Ams player Stuart Cassells as his assistant. “The club asked me to take the job because I know most of the lads and it was a no-brainer.
“We’ve got a good couple of signings in and some quite big ones hopefully coming off in a couple of weeks.
“The clubhouse has been renovated, the pitch re-seeded and fertilised, there’s been a lot of investment. We’re doing as much as we can.
“I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be disappointed to not go up this season. The club needs to get back in the Premier Division. It is as simple as that.”
Wellington Amateurs have launched a new development squad to help youngsters through the ranks and act as a bridge between their under-18s and first team.
Baker has recruited forwards Robbie Millington and Shane Thomas, the latter a former top scorer in the division.
Tahli Harrigan, Aaron Powell, Jake Challoner, Tom White and a number of last season’s squad have agreed to remain at the club for the upcoming campaign.
Amateurs almost picked up young right-back Ethan Rochelle, formerly of AFC Telford United’s youth set-up, after he impressed in development trials.
Baker worked with a number of the players when he guided Oakengates to the county league title in 2013/14.
And after significant change in recent years, the new manager admits it is time things settled down. The man at the top at Amateurs is Paul Gregory, son of late former chairman Dave, and the way he has thrown himself into the role is a source of inspiration.
“There’s been a lot of chopping and changing here over the last five years,” said Baker. “Paul has been doing a lot of stuff, marking pitches, cutting grass, painting walls. When you see someone at the top doing that it motivates you.
“There are a lot of people involved getting the club in the right place so there are no excuses if we can’t go and do our thing on Saturday.
“The foundations are there that once the first-team players reach the end there can be a natural progression from within. The ultimate aim is to promote from within.
“We don’t have the luxury of a massive budget to chuck at every Tom, Dick and Harry but we’ll do things properly. When lads turn up and see all the equipment is there it makes a difference.”
Baker believes Stu Lewis’s Allscott will be strong contenders in Division One this season alongside Team Dudley and Droitwich Spa.
“I would feel I had not done my job properly if we don’t go up,” he added. “It’s alright saying we’re going to stabilise but at the same time we’ve come here to win and go as far as we’re capable of.”
Amateurs have so far beaten AFC Bentley, AFC Wulfrunians and their development side in pre-season friendlies. They lost to Wolverhampton Casuals on Tuesday.
The club are hosting a Wellington Amateurs Legends versus Wolves All-stars game at Fortis Stadium on Sunday, August 18 at 2pm, to raise funds for Severn Hospice.