The White Stuff: Is Tadcaster Albion the right move for ex-Harrogate Railway boss Billy Miller

The White Stuff
The White Stuff

One step backwards, two steps forwards. That surely is the hope for Billy Miller, who has reached for the exit door at Harrogate Railway to catch a train towards the ambitions of Tadcaster Albion.

Dropping down a league is becoming an increasing theme in semi-professional football, where ‘grand ideas’, and money, ultimately, are taking precedence for many involved.

Albion’s grand idea has been made known ever since owners i2i Sports took control of the club in November 2013.

“Conference North is only a starting point”, bellowed new chairman Matt Gore, with a promise to supporters that Tad were on the road to success.

Two season climaxes on, and the Brewers remain sat in the Northern Counties East League Premier, following back-to-back third place finishes.

That led to the removal of stalwart Paul Marshall from the managerial hotseat, with Railway’s Miller the chosen man to take centre stage in the pressure cooker.

With change comes challenges, and this job presents the greatest in Miller’s five-year managerial career.

Over the last three years, Miller has worked wonders at Station View to life Railway out of the footballing doldrums and create a solid squad capable of competing with some of the biggest names in semi-professional football. But all that success has come with low expectations, and a mild, yet vocal, home support.

Now. he is taking over a bulging squad, with many players loyal to the previous regime and others reeling from the disappointment of missing out in the FA Vase and the league.

The pressure of success will certainly be firmly pressed on his shoulders.

Tadcaster expects. The owners expect silverware and progression, while the massive support - grown exponentially over the last two years – will need the same too.

With all that taken into account, though, I fully believe it’s a clever appointment for Tad.

Those supporters may look at Miller’s CV and not be that impressed, but in the context of the resources he has had on offer, Albion have selected out one of the very best in the local area.

The manager’s stock has risen by getting the most out of a small squad, by keeping players loyal, and by forming a winning brand of football that entertains.

The bad characters won’t last long, while the players sharing the boss’ and owners’ ambitions will prosper.

You only need to look at some of the players Miller has worked with during his time at Railway to see the confidence he puts into them.

Whether that’s Josh Windass – son of Deam – now playing at Accrington Stanley, Jake Lawlor plying his trade in Conference North or the star of 2014 Nathan Cartman.

Many have gone over and beyond what they were achieving when Miller picked them out.

It’s true he will have to juggle more players with the riches at Ings Lane, but from the conversations I have held and having sat in the Railway dressing room, he is one of the best man managers around.

With the inclusion of Matt Heath in his coaching set-up and playing staff at Tadcaster, Miller has already got the makings of a championship winning team.

Heath was a class apart in the Evo-Stik League last season, and put alongside former Leeds United defender Andy Milne at Taddy, there won’t be many better centre-back pairing at that level across the country.

I’m sure there will be disappointment amongst the Railway faithful, too.

After years of strife, they have enjoyed a record-breaking campaign, with excitement in front of goal and genuine victory potential ever ytime they took to the field.

In many ways Miller has gone against his own mantra from his time at Railway.

He has encouraged players to stay around Station View and not chase rewards further down the football hierarchy and ,any supporters will question whether a step down to Tadcaster is a move to bigger and better things.

While they are correct in certain ways, Albion’s aspirations far outweigh those at Station View over the next few years, and perhaps the boss felt he had taken Rail’ as far as he possibly could.

With his assistant Lee Ashforth taking over, Railway remain in good shape to prosper again.

They will have to rebuild from the exits of top player, but Ashforth has a strong knowledge and rapport with players to cement their position in the Evo-Stik Leagues.