Grainger steps down on winning note as Newmarket blitz visiting Walsham
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Newmarket Town 5
Newmarket Town turned on the style for their departing manager in the second half on Saturday — scoring five unanswered goals as Kevin Grainger signed off with a big victory.
It was announced on Thursday evening that Grainger would leave the dugout after the clash with Walsham to become the club’s chairman, with illness forcing the long-serving John Olive to step down from that position.
And the Jockeys handed their boss the perfect send off as a hat-trick from Stephen Spriggs — accompanied by a goal apiece for Shaun Avis and Lewis Whitehead — moved the team up to seventh position ahead of Michael Shinn’s tenure.
“I just said to the lads I have changed my mind,” joked Grainger, who had been in the hotseat since 2009.
“John and I go back a long way — he is one of my best friends.
“If I do not take it, we would probably have to appoint somebody from the outside.
“With what we are trying to build here, we would have lost that continuity.
“I feel Shinny is the right person to take things forward and we will support him all the way.
“Stepping down now gives Shinny the chance to have a decent look at things and then we can build for next year.
“We have got to get things better off the field. It is a challenge and I love challenges.”
All of the action at the Bloorie.com Stadium came in the second half after a lacklustre opening 45 minutes.
It took the hosts a matter of seconds to break the deadlock after the restart when Spriggs found the bottom corner.
A header from Avis made it 2-0, before Spriggs doubled his tally for the afternoon.
The winger completed his hat-trick 15 minutes from time — neatly lifting the ball over advancing Walsham goalkeeper Tom Coombes.
There was still enough time remaining for Whitehead to get in on the act with a shot that nestled inside the far post.
Grainger added: “It has been great and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve.
“I wanted to get us up a league and that has not happened, but apart from that we have done a lot.
“We have had two cup finals and last season was brilliant.
“It is nice to go out on a victory — it shows the quality we have here.”
Newmarket begin life without Grainger at the helm away at Fakenham on Saturday (3pm).
The Ghosts have had a tough season to date and currently find themselves second from bottom.