Ron Atkinson arrived at The Grove shortly after noon on Saturday, 20th October and spent 20 minutes with Nigel Pitt, Mark Serrell and Morell Maison before joining the Board Room Press Conference, with Ron Atkinson lining up with Nigel Pitt and Morell Maison to take questions.
Those present at the conference included representatives from Hamma & Glamma (film producers), Sunday Mercury, Birmingham Post, Birmingham Evening Mail/Sports Argus, Express and Star/Sporting Star, Halesowen News, Non-League Paper, Non-League Daily, BBC Midlands and Nuts magazine.
Q: Why Halesowen Town?
Ron Atkinson explained that he’d worked together with Morell previously at Kettering and also on ‘other projects’ and had enjoyed it. After they left Kettering he told Morell that if he got fixed up again and needed any help to let him know – whether on team matters, training or anything else. He had a call from Morell on Tuesday (after returning from holiday on Monday) to ask him to do exactly that. If he’d thought a week ago he’d be at Halesowen he’d have said you have rocks for brains! But he eventually said OK. Basically he had been press-ganged into it! As Ron’s mobile rang he quipped ‘that’ll be about the England job’
Q: How long will you stay?
Ron: No idea! But I know Morell has plans, he wants to be up in the main Conference in two years. One thing is for sure, it will be a rollercoaster.
Q: Did the Kettering experience put you off?
Ron: Well, it was like trying to be a Middle East peace broker over there. But one thing is for sure, Morell will work very hard for this club and has a great enthusiasm for the game. If he wants me to help out, then I will, in whatever capacity he wants. But I want to make clear I will be acting in a consultancy role to Morell, I will not be a Director of Football.
Q: How much time will you spend at Halesowen and what will your role be exactly?
Ron: I’ll spend as much time as I can, when I’m available, either for training or at games, but my exact role has not been defined. Incidentally, it’s strange that the manager of today’s opponents Roger Ashby was one of the best lads I worked with very early on.
Q: How will you achieve the plans and will there be money available?
Morell: It’s not just about money, it’s about the players you bring in, it’s about everyone working together, hard work and the infrastructure of the club. Money in itself is no guarantee of success alone.
Nigel: There will be investment. It’s time for Halesowen Town to move on from the previous eras. The infrastructure is there and the arrival of Ron and Morell is a breath of fresh air. This club belongs in the Conference. It is time for the community and the businesses of Halesowen to back and support us. We are now going to be a high profile club and one to be proud of.
Q: Who will be the majority shareholder in Halesowen Town?
Nigel: Negotiations on this matter are continuing and we have stated we will make further announcements by November 1st.
Q: Will you be choosing the team?
Ron: Morell will have the final say on the players and team selection.
Q: What about the infamous race comment?
Ron: I have nothing to say on that matter. My record with players over the years stands up for itself. And I’m going to Tony Daley’s 40th birthday party later.
Q: Is it good to be back in football?
Ron: After Sky TV and Kettering, there have been chances to get back into football, but I haven’t taken them.
Morell: I’ve spent some months in Brazil, USA and Holland studying coaching practices and academies. I’m involved in the academy business myself. Two Kettering youngsters have gone onto the Football League and were sold for considerable money such as Rene Howe to Peterborough.
In summary, Nigel concluded it was a new journey for the football club and a testing journey. He re-iterated his desire for the local community to show its support for this was the best opportunity we’ll ever have.
Following the press conference, Ron Atkinson made himself available for individual press interviews and a photograph session on the pitch and in the Harry Rudge Stand.