‘I have no divine right to walk into a coaching role': The ex-Portsmouth, Leeds and Stoke man on battling AFC Wulfrunians, Boldmere and Lye for maiden managerial glory

The Midland Football League Premier Division represents inauspicious surroundings for an ex-Premier League player.

Friday, 18th February 2022, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 10:25 am

Not that Carl Dickinson concerns himself with pomposity – and neither does he scream footballing entitlement.

The 34-year-old is currently battling AFC Wulfrunians, Lichfield Town, Boldmere St Michaels and Lye Town for promotion.

As player-manager of Hanley Town, he sees no shame in entering non-league circles to begin the ascent towards managing and coaching in the Football League.

Contemporaries would not consider such a route, instead focused on being parachuted into Premier League or Championship positions for their big break.

He told The News: ‘Some people, because they played at certain levels, feel they should walk into a job or coaching role higher up.

‘For me it was: “No. You have an opportunity here where you can test yourself straight away”.

Carl Dickinson made 44 appearances for Pompey and is now cutting his managerial teeth with non-league Hanley Town. Picture: Allan Hutchings

‘I suppose, in a weird sense, you can make mistakes lower down the pyramid and learn. I want to discover as much as I can about myself as a coach and as a manager, I want to see where it takes me.

‘I have no divine right to walk into a coaching role just because I played at a certain club or certain level.

‘When I was at Notts County, I was part-time coaching at Derby County under-14s. When I walked into there, I had so much I needed to learn.

‘There were certain coaches working with these kids who hadn’t played professional football and were so much better coaches than I was – and still are.

Carl Dickinson made 60 appearances for Stoke after coming through their youth ranks. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

‘There is no divine right for players to think they can walk into any given role just because of what they might have done in the past. You have to earn the right.

‘Don’t get me wrong, you might get certain opportunities because of what you’ve done and that’s fair enough, but you’ve got to take them.

‘I have made a start on my coaching career and have a hell of a lot to learn. I will do whatever it takes and speak and learn from as many people as I can.’

Dickinson has assembled a side bolstered by ex-Football League team-mates Louis Dodds, Chris Dagnall, Ryan Shotton and Danny Pugh

Carl Dickinson played three seasons with Yeovil before leaving in May 2021 to focus on his managerial career at Henley Town. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images

He has handed captaincy responsibility to ex-Port Vale team-mate Dodds, keen not to overburden himself.

And the team appears locked in for promotion – as title winners.

He added: ‘I have a fantastic chairman, with some fantastic volunteers and people who work around the stadium – and things are going really well.

‘It’s the next phase in my career, I still get to play and I still get that feeling walking out onto the pitch and playing.

‘I have loved every second of it. For me, if you love what you do it doesn't matter what level you’re playing at.

‘You’ve still got to have the same values that I’ve carried throughout my whole career in terms of honesty, work-rate commitment and we just do that at a different level.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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