Fleetlands chairman Iain Sellstrom: Why I didn't want to enter the Wessex League with joint-managers

Fleetlands chairman Iain Sellstrom has revealed it was his ‘personal wish’ to have just one manager for the club’s anticipated Wessex League return.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 2:05 pm

Since last December, Chris Blakeman and Dan Greenwood have been the club’s co-managers.

Blakeman was initially promoted from assistant to manager following Rich Bessey’s resignation last November, with Greenwood leaving his assistant’s role at Hayling in early December to switch to Lederle Lane.

The Coptermen won 12 out of their 15 games under Blakeman and Greenwood to finish third in the Hampshire Premier League.

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Fleetlands chairman Iain Sellstrom

Having passed the ground grading inspection, Fleetlands are expected to be invited in Division 1 of the Wessex for next season. Sellstrom admits the wait is ‘frustrating’ but the club could know their fate within a few weeks.

But they will move into step 6 with just Greenwood as the sole manager with ex-Fareham Town reserve boss Seth Puckett as his assistant. Blakeman has been appointed reserve team manager.

Sellstrom said it was always his aim to have just one first team manager as and when the club gained promotion to the Wessex, where Fleetlands spent a few seasons in the noughties when there was a much larger Wessex structure.

‘It was my personal wish,’ said Sellstrom. ‘I just wanted a manager rather than co-managers. I find it can be quite difficult getting things across when you have co-managers.

‘It’s easier if you have anything to say, you say it to just one person.

‘It all revolved around Chris Blakeman, he was perfect for the role in bringing the youth through the reserves.’

Asked if it was a difficult conversation telling Blakeman he would no longer be first team manager, Sellstrom said: ‘Of course it was. He was part of the management team last season and deserves a lot of credit.’

Sellstrom said it was also his decision to recruit Puckett. ‘I’ve been romancing him for a while,’ he revealed. ‘He will complement Dan well and add lots of value.’

Sellstrom, who arrived at Fleetlands in 2018 with a five-year plan to achieve Wessex football, is also planning to appoint a director of football.

Ideally, the successful candidate ‘will have been in a senior managerial role for some time’ and will have worked in the Wessex League - something neither Greenwood or Blakeman have on their CVs.

The DoF will have ‘360 degree involvement and sit on the committee’. ‘We won’t rush the appointment,’ Sellstrom confirmed.

Greenwood was followed to Lederle Lane by a host of former Hayling players, which greatly boosted Fleetlands’ strength in depth.

Sellstrom is well aware, though, that more new faces are required for the club to hold their own at a higher level.

‘We won’t be throwing money at it,’ he said, ‘but we want to compete. I have sat down with the new management team and told them there is a three-year plan to be in the Wessex Premier.

‘It needs to be balanced development - the growth off the field has to match that off it.

‘We have gone back to the drawing board, but there are revised plans for a bigger and better clubhouse.’