The Norwich City influence in non league football
PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:32 26 May 2020
Darren Eadie is part of an increasing Norwich City influence on the non league football scene, as Chris Lakey reports
It’s not easy to define exactly what makes a good football manager, particularly one in charge of a non league team.
Connections always help - and at the moment the one with Norwich City appears to be working rather well.
At King’s Lynn Town, former Canaries defender Ian Culverhouse has been pulling up trees at The Walks, where another ex-Canary, Ryan Jarvis, is increasingly involved on the coaching side, as well as playing.
The same can be said of former City midfielder Cedric Anselin, who took Norwich United to second place in the Eastern Counties Premier before the coronavirus pandemic brought an end to the season.
And at Trafford Park, Adam Drury is assistant manager at Wroxham, who enjoyed a good FA Vase run and were nicely placed in the same division before things came to a shuddering halt – and have ex-City stars Grant Holt and Simon Lappin playing for them.
Now, Darren Eadie has stepped up the non league ladder as he and brother-in-law Chris Wigger plot Leiston’s future. The pair had been in charge of Sheringham last season leading them to a very respectable seventh place in Thurlow Nunn First Division North in their first season after promotion from the Anglian Combination League.
Leiston compete in the same Southern League Premier Division Central as Lowestoft Town, who have just appointed former Norwich youth and reserve team manager Keith Webb as their head of coaching.
Eadie’s task is perhaps the more difficult task, given Leiston finished the season one off the drop zone, although it mattered little as results were then made null and void.
Eadie has had a well-known battle with depression and admits he had no plans to become involved in grassroots football - before Wigger changed all that.
“I never had any intentions of being in management, never wanted to do it, to be a coach any of that,” he told the Non League Nosh podcast.
“But then working with him it was just a breath of fresh air to be back in the changing room with a bunch of lads who do take on your opinion and listen to what you want to say and then seeing the results of that.
“If I wasn’t doing it with Chris I wouldn’t be doing it. He is my brother-in-law but he is also my best mate and I am proud to have that experience with him and experience that with him and try and we where we can go with it. If it was any other way I don’t think I would be doing it, but I think we bounce off each other really well, we work together really well, we have known each other since we were kids, we have a good rapport, we believe in the same things, we have the same sort of morals, we think the same way so it is just a really nice balance to have someone to bounce off.”
Clearly, the move into non league football has worked well for the 44-year-old.
“It’s been brilliant,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it – it’s back to where I was as a kid, it is playing in sometimes awful pitches, crappy training rooms and cold floors, wind blowing, nets hanging off. All this is happening at some of the levels we have been involved at, but that’s football to me, that is what I enjoyed as a youngster. It felt real and the characters in the changing rooms again – it doesn’t matter if you are in a pro environment or a non league environment, it is about the people who are in it and at Leiston now there are some really, really good people involved at the football club, we have got some really good players at the football club and some more coming in that we are in the process of signing at the moment, so we are excited to get going and really looking forward to it.
“It feels ready to be involved in because it feels like getting away from that elite environment is a nice thing, it is back to having an effect. I can have an influence on what we are doing and the lads are really respectful and they want to learn and it has been pleasing for me to see they take that on board.”