Crease quits as Berwick manager

Jimmy Crease can't believe his team's woeful display as the third goal hits the back of the net for Annan.
Jimmy Crease can't believe his team's woeful display as the third goal hits the back of the net for Annan.

JIMMY Crease has quit as manager of Berwick Rangers.

The news was announced by the club on Wednesday lunch-time, just hours after Crease had been informed of a statement from the Supporters’ Trust, calling for him to be replaced with ‘immediate effect.’

The Trust statement was due to be discussed by the Board at a meeting on Thursday.

Crease expressed surprise on learning of the statement but he said he would put the interests of the club first.

Speaking shortly before his resignation he said: “I have a strong affiliation with the club and the town and at the end of the day I don’t want to sour that.”

“I have a good working relationship with the chairman and the directors and I think it is only right I discuss the situation with them before making any further comment.

“But at the end of the day I will do what is best for Berwick Rangers, not what is best for Jimmy Crease.”

Berwick suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat away to Highland League Deveronvale in the second round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday. Irate fans, some of whom had made the lengthy trip to Banff, immediately called for Crease’s head.

Some described the loss as Berwick’s worst in their modern history, and Crease himself admitted that it was “the worst performance during his time at the club.”

Messages on internet forums said he should either resign or be sacked, whilst one website even launched a poll asking fans to vote on whether or not he should be sacked.

A statement issued by the Trust said Crease’s position needed to be looked at “as a matter of priority.”

The statement read: “The humiliating defeat by Deveronvale in the Scottish Cup has compounded growing concern at the lack of progress on the field which is creating disenchantment amongst supporters, leading to falling crowds.

“Despite a substantial uplift in this season’s playing budget and commendable patience shown by both the Football Club Board and supporters, Rangers are languishing in seventh place in the Third Division following another inconsistent and uninspiring campaign.

“We are concerned that the manager has consistently failed to address long-standing problems relating to team matters and disciplinary issues. Additionally, there has been little evidence of the manager carrying out any critical self-analysis or taking responsibility for the current state of affairs. An apology to those supporters who dug deep to support their team in Banff would have been appropriate in the circumstances.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but believe that this position represents the views of the majority of our members.

“We have asked our representative on the Berwick Rangers FC Board to make our position clear – that the replacement of the manager should be a priority in order to revive the current season and reinvigorate supporters’ interest in Berwick Rangers.”

John Bell, who is a member of the Trust and also a full director of the club, said he would present the Trust’s views to the board at their meeting on Thursday.

“Everyone was hurting after Saturday’s game,” said Bell. “People were calling for Jimmy’s head, and there were a lot of things said in the heat of the moment.

“The dust has settled over the past few days, and people have had time to take stock.

“The Trust, of which Colin Pike is the chairman, have asked me to present the statement to the Board and that is what I will do.

“The situation will be discussed by the Board and I am certain that some kind of statement will follow in due course.”

However, a statement issued by the club on their official website on Wednesday said Crease had resigned ‘with immediate effect.’

His assistant, Ian Little will now take charge of team affairs until the club decide what is the best way forward.

Earlier in the week Crease had refused to bow to all the criticism when he said: “I know the knives will be out, but I’m going nowhere. I know Saturday’s result puts pressure on me, but there’s always pressure in football – it’s the way the game is nowadays.

“I can appreciate you have to ask the question, but why is it always the manager who comes under the spotlight after a poor performance?

“I didn’t hear a lot of fans’ praise after we beat sides like Partick and Dumbarton in the cup earlier in the season. I am not shirking my responsibilities, but what I cannot abide is those faceless fans who spout off behind anonymous identities on the internet.

“They make various comments on the forums, but all they have to do is come and ask me straight to my face because I will always give them an honest answer. We had a talk-in a while back, but how many of them turned up then?”

Crease’s comments came after one website launched a poll asking fans to vote on whether or not he should be sacked as manager.

“I can take all the criticism that comes my way,” Crease added. “I have broad shoulders and I know it’s part and parcel of the game.

“I know the tom-toms are out and beating, but that doesn’t worry me.

“I am the manager, I pick the team, but once the players cross the white line for the game it is up to them.

“On this occasion we did everything right. We prepared well. We had information on Deveronvale and we knew they were a danger.

“They were runners-up in the Highland League last season, so we knew we couldn’t underestimate them. They haven’t been going so well this season, but taking all that into consideration we still expected to go there and win.

“We took the players up to Aberdeen on the Friday. Before the game everyone was confident and bubbly, but come three o’clock it all fell apart. We allowed ourselves to be bullied and out-muscled.

“I was very, very disappointed with the performance and of course the result, but things like this happen in football. Just look as Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United at the weekend.

“I know the buck stops with me, but the players have to accept some responsibility as well. They just didn’t compete, and apart from the odd one or two they were all well below the level we have come to expect. I was hurting, I know the fans were hurting, I just hope the players were hurting as well.

“Before the game we talked about what the cup meant to Berwick and we looked at the Celtic game last season and everything that surrounded it.

“The directors went up expecting us to perform, as did the fans. Everyone knew they had a job to do, but it didn’t happen.

“The performance was totally unacceptable – in fact I would have to say it was the worst in all my time at the club – and afterwards the players were left under no illusions as to my thoughts on the matter. I have been at Berwick a long time and during my spell with the club I can honestly say I have never been so embarrassed as I was on Saturday.”

Of the campaign waged against him on the internet he said he refused to let himself be influenced by the ‘faceless fans’ who were out to get him. If they come and speak to me direct I will give them an honest answer,” he said.

Berwick don’t have a game this weekend as they were due to play away against East Stirling, but they are now involved in a cup replay against Buckie instead.