‘A tough decision and an easy decision rolled into one’ – ex-Baffins No 2 Steve Ledger takes over as Paulsgrove boss
Steve Ledger confessed it was ‘a tough decision and an easy decision rolled into one’ to accept the challenge of guiding Paulsgrove into the Wessex League.
The former Baffins Milton Rovers No 2 had also been assistant at Grove to Wayne Grant, who resigned last month and has subsequently joined Wessex Leaguers Infinity.
Ledger was in caretaker charge for Grove’s 5-1 weekend romp at Liss in the Hampshire Premier League Senior Division, and has now been placed in full control. He will be assisted by Darren Lambe and Gary Gibson.
‘At first I was a bit unsure - I’ve always been a No 2 - but the players came to me and asked me if I could step up,’ Ledger explained.
‘It’s a full on commitment. Wayne did ever so much for the club, he was basically 24/7 - he just needed a change.
‘Darren Lambe and Gary Gibson were happy to come on board, so I thought let’s try and push it on from what Wayne achieved. It’s just trying to take it on to the next level.
‘I know the club, I know the people behind the scenes, I know the supporters, I know the players - their good and bad points.
‘I want to try and turn them from a Hampshire League side into a Wessex League one.
‘In the end, it was a tough decision and an easy decision rolled into one. The support of the players and guys like Darren and Gary made it easier.
‘There’s some top, top footballers here - the team are better than than Hampshire League.
‘I’m excited to see if we can take it to the next level.’
Local councillor George Madgwick was recently appointed Grove chairman and told The News he is determined to oversee the club’s return to the Wessex League.
Ledger also believes the future is bright, on and off the pitch.
‘We’re trying to curb the vandalism. We’re putting up CCTV, we’ve put up a huge fence,’ he explained.
‘George coming in as chairman has been a Godsend, we’ve got planning permission for floodlights, we want to build new dugouts, we’ve got the support of people at the council. Everything is in place to get things right off the pitch.
‘We’ve got some great young talent coming through and we’ve got players like Jake Daniels and Shane Cornish who will fight to the end and always give 110 per cent.
‘Jake Daniels has got great heart and spirit - there’s some very passionate players there who will bleed Paulsgrove blue.
‘The ressies have hit the ground running, and I want to make it one big club again. There was a bit of a divide before.
‘I know we have the players to take us onto the next level.’
One man whose phone could be busier than before, now Ledger is a manager in his own right, is ex-Baffins boss Steve Leigh.
Ledger played alongside Leigh at Brading and Paulsgrove, and was his assistant when Baffins won the Wessex League Cup in 2018/19.
‘I learnt so much from Steve, and I’ve got so much respect for him. He’s someone I will lean on for advice.
‘We speak pretty much every other day and I know he will give me tips and pointers
‘Some of what Steve tried to implement at Baffins I will look at doing. He’s got some brilliant ideas - it’s a shame that what happened at Baffins, happened.’
Ledger added: ‘I’m excited and a little bit nervous, it will be a learning curve for me as well.
‘I know I’ll upset people, but I will stand by my decisions.
‘I know people like Steve and Wayne (Grant) who I can lean on for advice. Their clubs are in a higher league, so perhaps we can help each other out?
‘If we have players coming through that I think are Wessex level, I know where I will want the lads to play.
‘You get a buzz from seeing players progress. Look at Zak Willett, he’s flying at Horndean and I’m really chuffed.
‘When I was at Baffins we had Tommy and Ashton Leigh. Ashton’s now at Bognor and Tommy’s a professional in League One.’
Ledger believes this season is a ‘free hit’ for him but wants Grove - HPL champions in 2017/18 - to claim a top three finish.
‘I’ve spoken to the players and they tell me they are sticking together. If they do that, we can finish top three.
‘If I’m being honest, I reckon Moneyfields have won the league already but I want to be top three.
‘If Wayne does come in for any of the players, so be it - but my feeling is that they will stick together and see the season out.’
Striker Danny Lane netted on his first appearance of 2021/22 as Grove won at Liss. Cornish, Jordan Cheung, Preston Tee and Rob White also netted in the club’s third successive HPL win since Grant departed.