Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Town Celebrate Five of the Best

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Town Celebrate Five of the Best

Article excerpt

Byline: ANTHONY VICKERS

SANDY McKenzie is hoping to celebrate five turbulent years at Guisborough Town with his team top of the table.

The Priorymen can regain leadership of Division Two if they win at Whickham and current table toppers Newton Aycliffe fail to beat Team Northumbria.

Just a point behind, with two games in hand and a seven-point cushion, in-form Town are sitting pretty.

It is all a far cry from when McKenzie took over an ailing, debt-burdened club reeling from relegation and on the verge of being wound up.

Since then he has worked relentlessly to steady the ship, balance the books and rebuild links with the local community.

They have built a youth system, revived a supporters' club, hosted a series of concerts as part of a fund-raising drive and become part of a thriving community network.

And on it, after getting through three managers in his first two years, a polished young team assembled by boss Chris Hardy has improved its position three seasons in a row, won FA awards for cup giant-killing and is among the front runners for promotion.

"We were on the verge of liquidation but we have come on leaps and bounds," said McKenzie, voted Guisborough's citizen of the year in 2009 for his efforts to galvanise the club.

"And that is all down to the volunteers here who work unpaid 24/7 to keep the club going.

"The senior side is doing well in the league but the club is more than that.

"We have around 300 youngsters aged six to 18 playing in junior sides plus two senior teams now.

"The club prides itself on what it gives back to the town with coaching schemes to help tackle anti-social behaviour and provide kids with social and personal development through sport.

"And we work with local charities and community groups in any way we can. We want to be at the heart of the community.

"But while we are healthy compared to five years ago, we still need every penny to stay afloat. …

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