Club Records - Managers - Steve Wignall

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Steve Wignall

Steve Wignall

Born: 17.9.54, Liverpool.
Managerial Tenure: 23.5.92 to 12.1.95.
First Game: v Clapton (H), Isthmian League Division 3, 22.8.92.
Last Game: v Barking (A), Isthmian League Division 1, 7.1.95.

A centre back during his playing days, Steve is the brother of ex-Doncaster Rovers midfielder David Wignall and the father of ex-Colchester United centre half Jack and Welwyn rugby union player Tom.

He started his career as a junior at Liverpool before joining Doncaster Rovers as an amateur in March 1972 (he turned pro twelve months later) and made his Football League debut in a Division 4 fixture at home to Crewe Alexandra in November of that year. The following season, he featured against Liverpool in the FA Cup third round. Rovers drew 2-2 at Anfield in front of 31483 spectators and 22499 saw the replay at Belle Vue (then Doncaster’s home) which Bill Shankly’s side won 2-0. In total, Steve made 130 appearances for Rovers scoring a solitary goal in a 3-2 victory against Swansea City in March 1975.

In September 1977, Steve joined Colchester for £5,000. The Essex club gained promotion from Division 4 that season and established themselves in the Division 3 finishing eighth in 1977-78. They reached the FA Cup fifth round the following season before losing 1-0 at home to Manchester United the same evening that Aldershot were seconds away from reaching the quarter-final of the competition against Shrewsbury Town. After making 281 appearances for the Us and scoring 22 goals, he moved to Brentford in August 1984. That season, he was a member of the Bees’ side (along with future Shots keeper Gary Phillips) that lost 3-1 to Wigan Athletic in the Freight Rover Trophy final at Wembley. In his two seasons at Griffin Park, Steve made 67 appearances and scored two goals.

In September 1986, an £8,000 fee brought Steve to Aldershot FC. With the side having collected just one point from their opening three matches, he made his Shots debut at home to Lincoln City in September 1986. The 4-0 victory was watched by just 1443 spectators. The season proved to be possibly the most successful in the history of Aldershot FC as promotion to Division 3 was secured via play-off victories over Bolton Wanderers and Wolverhampton Wanderers; Len Walker’s side also reached the FA Cup fourth round and the Southern Area final of the Freight Rover Trophy. In total, Steve made 55 appearances that season and scored a vital goal at Swindon Town in the semi-final of the latter competition as the Shots turned round a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 at the County Ground.

Overall, he made 199 appearances for Aldershot scoring seven goals. He remained on the coaching staff at the Rec until the demise of Aldershot FC in March 1992, assisting caretaker manager Ian McDonald.

Across his entire career, Steve made 631 + 8 Football League appearances, scoring 28 goals.

With the formation of Aldershot Town, Steve was appointed the first manager of the club in June 1992 after McDonald had been appointed reserve team manager of Millwall. He had just one player on his books at the time, the groundsman’s son Chris Tomlinson.

Steve's Book Cover

Steve's Book Cover

At the time, there was no indication of what league the new club would be in. Indeed, Steve made a phone call to chairman Terry Owens whilst on holiday in Majorca to ascertain what division Aldershot had been accepted into. He was told “Diadora (Isthmian League) Division 3”. Having played under influential managers such as Brian Clough, Frank McLintock and John Docherty, he knew what was required. When the new club made their inaugural competitive debut at home to Clapton on August 22nd 1992, Steve, together with assistant manager Keith Baker, had assembled a squad primarily of local players on next-to-nothing wages. Indeed, the first season’s total playing and management budget was just £44,163. Victory in the first ten matches set the team on the way to success with the attendances matching the work being undertaken on the pitch. The Division 3 title was won by 18 points and Aldershot were back on the map. An attendance of 5951 watched the Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final against neighbours Farnborough Town at the Rec.

The following season saw a further promotion and success in the FA Vase, where the Shots were finally eliminated from the Wembley-bound competition at the quarter-final stage after three matches against Greater Manchester-based Atherton Laburnum Rovers. The manner that Steve went about his first managerial job started to alert other clubs. Not only did he establish first team success, but he had a talent of ensuring the playing side of the club was structured from junior level upwards to enable the opportunity for future development of players, too.

In January 1995, Steve’s former club Colchester United made an approach as they were aiming to appoint a manager to replace George Burley. Steve and his family had always had an affinity with the Essex club and it was an offer that could not be refused; a compensation fee was paid to Aldershot Town for the cancellation of the contract. During his time as manager of Aldershot Town, Steve’s management record is such that 72.54% of points available were achieved. A tremendous record.

Steve built a similar platform at Layer Road. In four seasons at the Essex club, he led them to tenth, seventh (play-off semi-finals), eighth and fourth in Division 3. A play-off final victory against Torquay United was secured in the1997-98 season, which led to Steve being voted the BBC Essex Radio “Sports Personality of the Year”. The Us also reached the final of the Auto Windscreens Shield at Wembley in 1996-97, where they were narrowly defeated by Carlisle United. He left Colchester on January 21st 1999 believing, at the time, that he could take the club no further.

After a brief spell at Stevenage Borough during the 1999-2000 season, he became manager of another former club Doncaster Rovers in May 2000. After stabilising a club that had finished bottom of the Football League in 1997-98 and 16th in the Conference in the previous two seasons, Steve provided a firm footing in his first season as the Yorkshire club finished ninth. He was surprisingly replaced in December 2001 with Rovers hovering around the top six in the table.

After a spell out of the game, Steve was appointed as manager of Southend United in April 2003, but was only in charge for 23 matches, having to dismantle and rebuild the squad that had been struggling in Division 3 before his arrival. After recruiting new players, he was not given the time for the squad to settle before he was dismissed in November 2003. Steve has since been both assistant manager and first team coach at Wivenhoe Town, started his own property development business and worked for the League Managers’ Association.

In 2009, Steve published his autobiography entitled You Can Have Chips.

Attached Documents

Club Records - 1st Team Managers