And so, the inevitable has happened. Wayne Burnett has been discovered by a side in a higher division, and he’s off to try and resurrect Grays Athletic’s season. The Fish wishes Wayne the very best of luck at Grays, but given the difficulties they are currently facing he may have stepped from the fish-frying pan into the fire.
Fisher now find themselves without a manager and in deep trouble at the bottom of the Conference South. It has been clear in recent weeks that Wayne was once again working his magic with a group of young, talented but inexperienced footballers. The concern now is not just what happens to that group on the field, but whether some of them will follow their boss to a higher league. Having lost several players to League football over the summer, the Fish can ill-afford further departures. The FA Cup tie this Saturday at Maidstone will be a test of the squad’s ability to survive without their mentor.
Any current Fish considering following Wayne to Grays might do well to first consider the fate of others who have trodden that path. Justin Edinburgh, for instance, lasted just over 12 months in the hotseat at The New Recreation Ground and is now jobless. Talented midfielder Charley Hearn looked set for big things when he left the Fish to join Edinburgh at Grays, but a year later he was released and now can be found in the Kent League at Beckenham Town. Jeff Goulding went there on loan last season, and came back to the Fish looking like a shadow of his former self. Heading the other way down the A13 this summer was Chris Saunders – who was promptly sent off two minutes into his debut for the Fish.
If anyone can break the curse, Wayne can. But don’t be surprised if it all ends in tears a few months from now…