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Manager change at Needham Market as Richard Wilkins replaced by former Manchester City midfielder Kevin Horlock




Richard Wilkins has left his role as manager of Needham Market, after two and a half seasons at the helm of the BetVictor Southern Premier Central.

He has been replaced by Needham Market academy manager Kevin Horlock, a former Manchester City and West Ham United player.

Wilkins departure follows an upturn in the club's fortunes in the league, with them having returned nine points from the last nine on offer, including a high-scoring 4-3 victory at home to Hednesford Town on Saturday.

FOOTBALL - Needham Market v Coalville Town..Pictured: Manager Richard Wilkins...PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (28328724)
FOOTBALL - Needham Market v Coalville Town..Pictured: Manager Richard Wilkins...PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (28328724)

Horlock came in as the full-time successor to Steve Foley in the academy in June 2019, signing a three-year contract at Bloomfields to look after the academy and the reserves side, but has now stepped up to take on the first team.

The current assistant boss for the Northern Ireland Under-21s has helped Needham Market Reserves to a mid-table 12th position in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, as they become more competitive at Step 6.

Horlock, speaking to the club's website, said: “This is an opportunity that has arisen sooner than I thought, but one that I was always interested in taking.

Needham Market Academy director Robert Peace (left) with new first team manager Kevin Horlock. Picture: Needham Market FC
Needham Market Academy director Robert Peace (left) with new first team manager Kevin Horlock. Picture: Needham Market FC

"I am in a privileged position taking over a squad that is full of good players and a number of academy players ready to take that step up.

"I see my job as continuing the good work Richard Wilkins has done to strengthen the pathway from the academy to the first team while achieving success on and off the pitch.”

A club statement on the website said his role with the academy will not be affected by the appointment, he will continue to oversee all football provision within the academy and team selections for teams that play within academy.

He will also work closely with operations & academy director Robert Peace to establish a whole club approach within all junior and female teams.

Graham Emmerson, chief executive, said: “Richard has been a pleasure to work with and he is completely professional in the way that he conducts himself and the manner in which he represents the club.

"This has been a very difficult decision but the overriding consideration has to be what is best for the Club and who is best equipped to integrate some of the exceptional talent that is currently in our academy into the first team.

"We wish Richard all the very best for the future and thank him sincerely for the hard work in establishing us as a Level 3 club."

Keith Nunn, club chairman, added: “Wilks is an excellent manager with a detailed knowledge of the non-league game and has had a great three seasons as first team manager since replacing Mark Morsely back in 2017.

"Despite an inconsistent set of results so far this season he has stabilised the club at Step 3 with the last three league victories and he has built a squad that is undoubtedly the strongest in the county.

"However, we feel it is time for a change and appointing Kevin Horlock at this time shows our intent in moving forward.”

Robert Peace, operations & academy director, said: "I would like to thank Richard for his hard work stabilising Needham Market FC at Step 3 but Kevin's appointment is great news for the club and the academy.

"As academy manager he is best placed to make decisions on which of our academy players can progress into the first team.

"The appointment will strengthen the pathway and show a clear route from the academy to first team and potentially beyond if players have the ability and desire."