WILL HATFIELD has hailed the ‘passion and commitment to the cause’ shown by caretaker Guiseley boss Sean St Ledger – and is hoping that he gets the chance to lead the Lions in their National League North campaign in 2018-19.
The relegated Nethermoor outfit end three years of National League football tomorrow at Boreham Wood (12.30pm), with attention then likely to switch to their permanent managerial situation with St Ledger in charge since Paul Cox’s sacking in February.
Despite not managing to pull off a Great Escape mission, St Ledger, in his first spell in the dug-out, has clearly healed fractures among the club’s previously demoralised and disunited squad – with the sense of unity and spirit shown among a group of players now battling for the Lions’ cause representing an achievement in itself, given what went before.
St Ledger is to take time to consider his options after this weekend’s final game, but he can count on plenty of support to stay on in the Guiseley dressing room if he elects to pursue a managerial career after initially coming in as a player. Hatfield said: “Results have been a bit up and down, but at least, we have been having those ups. We are giving 100 per cent and I have got to give credit to Sean St Ledger. He has shown a real passion and commitment to the cause and in the circumstances he came into, he has really got us together and playing the right way as well.
“The passion he has shown at the club is what you need in a manager. He deserves a good crack at it and we will see what happens. He has done well while he has been in charge.
“Whatever the future holds for Guiseley, that team spirit and togetherness must stay. That is part of being a successful team.
“It has been tough and everyone knows the changes at the club and what has been happening. But in the last few months, we have come together as a team and have been playing better football.
“There were so many changes before, that it was hard to get that team spirit which we (previously) had when I was here. Definitely, in the last few months, there has been more bonding together and backing and being behind each other through good and bad times.”
The renewed sense of morale was never more evident than in Tuesday night’s remarkable victory at Torquay United, with the ten-man Lions – despite losing Harry Flowers early on – rewarding their loyal band of fans with a dramatic 4-3 win – and they are hoping to provide an encore for the club’s diehard support tomorrow.
St Ledger, who hailed the performance in Devon as ‘first-class’ in what was the club’s fourth game in a week, said: “Saturday’s game is a great one. They are going for the play-offs and my players will know they have to be up for it or else it will be a long afternoon.
“I am looking forward to it and for the players under contract for next season, it is important to finish on a high.”
Tuesday’s success at Plainmoor was also memorable for Hatfield, who scored his first goal since March 2017 on a night when Dayle Southwell and Rowan Liburd (2) also struck.
Hatfield said: “It was a long journey. But coming away with a win and being on the scoresheet made it worthwhile and it was a thank you to the Guiseley fans as well. A Tuesday night in Torquay, there were 20 or so fans singing their hearts out and it was unbelievable to see.”
Another motivation tomorrow is that a Lions victory, coupled with a loss or draw for Chester at Barrow, would also see Guiseley avoid claiming the wooden spoon.