Special Feature: Now Bradshaw Is Making His Mark At Curzon

Mark Bradshaw had a decision to make just before Christmas. It ultimately resulted in a gift even Santa couldn’t serve up.

When close friend and Curzon Ashton manager John Flanagan left after seven successful seasons on the last day of November, the coach had a lot to consider.

He had been at Tameside for 15 years. There’s no other sideline he could see himself standing on every other Saturday.

The man he served loyally for half of that time had left. But he has just been given the opportunity to replace him. What do you do?

“I had to weigh everything up,” Bradshaw told us in the latest of our special club focus features.

“I called John and Ian. I said I couldn’t turn down such an opportunity purely because of loyalty.

“The offer came out of the blue. It was a shock at first. When any managers who has served somewhere for so long leaves, it takes quite a lot of getting used to.

“When I was asked about taking over I felt it was something I had to consider.

“Problem is, the Curzon job doesn’t come up very often. John was here for seven years, and Gary Lowe - the manager he took over from - was here for 12.

“So since 2000, the club had had two managers.

“They give their managers time here. What if I said no? It may be another ten years until the chance came up again.

“It could never have happened for me because of that longevity. I had to grab it.”

He steadied the ship after a slower than hoped for first four months of the season. The Nash ended the campaign 18th, just two places but 14 points above the National League North drop zone.

Now it’s about progress - and potentially even going full circle.

The 49-year-old isn’t content to just avoid a scrap this time around.

He has signed 12 new players and many of the old guard have left. It’s all change and the manager says it’s one of those things that happens in football.

“This is the first summer that I have been in charge of the club’s recruitment,” he told us.

“We never expected a few of the players to leave that have done, but they’ve left. It happens, people move on.

“They are players who have been central to the club’s success for a few years.

“They have served the club well, it’s sad they are going and we wish them well but we need to move forward.

“We sat down and decided maybe it’s time to start again.

“We now have a young, hungry team who could all, at some point soon, go on to play at a higher level. A few levels higher.

“They are players who are on the fringe of establishing themselves in the game. Now they have a carrot to really go on.

“We will take risks. They may not all work, but I will do it my way.”

But where can it take Curzon, who operate in a demanding division with one of the lesser budgets on offer.

“We have our goals, we’re ambitious like every other club,” he told us.

“The highest points tally we have achieved at this level is 58. Can we beat that? I would love to think that’s possible.

“The National League North only gets stronger every year. Every single week you have to battle until the final moment.

“It’s going to be even more competitive now and I don’t think there’s a stand-out side like we have seen before with Fylde, Salford City and Stockport County really getting it right under Jim Gannon last year.

“We may be in for a few surprise teams doing well and if we are then I would love us to be one of them.”

Where next?

Herring Calls For A Special Constable To Boost Crusaders Ian Herring believes new signing James Constable still has something to offer after the 34-year-old joined from Poole Town.
The National League Season Review Part Eight: March Each week during the summer break we will be reviewing the season month-by-month. Let's whet the appetite for August with a look back at what happened in the March of last season in all three divisions.

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