Sleepless nights for Mason as he plots Soham’s survival
The experienced striker was full of enthusiasm upon his appointment as Soham Town Rangers’ player-manager just before the festive period, but by his own admission, the job is already depriving him of some shut-eye.
Sixteen games have been and gone and Mason is still awaiting his first victory. To make matters worse, Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Aveley dropped The Greens into the relegation zone for the first time under his watch.
There are of course some mitigating circumstances, the headline of those being a double-figure number of players heading for pastures new.
Nevertheless, Mason is refusing to throw in the towel as he bids to keep Soham in the Ryman League Division One North, starting with Saturday’s visit of promotion candidates Thurrock (3pm).
“This is the most pressure I have felt for a long while, certainly more than being a player,” he confessed.
“As a player I used to let the chances I missed play on mind, but this is a totally different story.
“I am awake at 1am or 2am thinking what do I do? Ultimately, the buck stops with me.
“It is tough, but we need to keep positive, stay energised and the lads need to believe in themselves.
“It is a massive concern at the moment and it is tough because I am a winner — I hate to lose.
“We are more than capable of beating any side in the league on our day, we just need to show it.”
The aforementioned player departures has left Mason with a squad that is unrecognisable to the one that started the campaign back in August.
Seven — including leading goalscorer Ryan Sharman, towering defender Jordan Gent and winger Darren Foxley — all decided to join former boss Robbie Nightingale at Cambridge City, while in the last fortnight captain Simon Swinton has dropped down a level with Newmarket Town.
Some of those exits have disappointed Mason more than others, but he is now challenging those left behind to show they have the guts for the fight.
“A few lads have thrown the towel in and jumped ship,” added the player-boss, who is suspended for the weekend.
“After the recent departures we called a meeting with the players to make sure there are no underlying issues.
“Some points were made and now we move on from it.
“You can be the best player in the world, but if you have no heart, you will not be as affective as someone full of desire.
“We have told the players what is required from them, now they need to deliver.”