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Author: Keith Trudgeon - Sun 6 Aug 17
Stalybridge Celtic chairman Rob Gorski has described last years relegation to the Evo-Stik Premier Division as heart-breaking.

However, he believes the club can make an immediate return to the National League North under Steve Burr and Keith Briggs starting with a home clash to Nantwich Town next Saturday.
Ahead of his tenth season as chairman of Celtic, Gorski spoke to Reporter Sport and reflected on what he described as his toughest period in charge of the club. "When I first became Chairman, the Conference North was a completely different animal" said Gorski.

"We probably had one of the highest budgets and if it were not for an incompetent referee - TV cameras proved that Barrows goal was offside and the ref openly apologised for not giving us a blatant penalty in the last 10 minutes - then wed have been promoted to the Premier in my first season.

Since then, teams like Fleetwood, Fylde, Salford, Ferriby, Harrogate, Kidderminster, Stockport and many, many more teams have literally doubled and trebled our budget.

Moreover, other clubs are charging £15, £16 or even £18 entrance charges. As a result we literally could not compete financially.

I would argue that the Conference North last season was much tougher than the Conference Premier that we were last relegated from"

In what will be regarded as one of the worst campaigns in memory, Celtic began last season under former manager Liam Watson, who guided the club to safety on the final day of the 2014/15 season with a dramatic 4-4 draw against Gainsborough Trinity, before ending the following season in mid-table.

During the summer break, Watson made wholesale changes to the Celtic squad, recruiting a crop of new players which impressed during the pre-season schedule.

Yet despite the pre-season optimism and winning their opening day clash at Boston United, Celtic then went on to lose the following seven games, conceding 19 goals in the process.

In what came as little shock to many supporters, Watson confirmed his resignation from the club following the 3-1 defeat to Gloucester City on Saturday 27 August.

The way in which Watson resigned, however, has left a bitter taste in Gorskis mouth. He said: "I did have a word with Liam on a couple of occasions last summer where he brought in players that shocked me.

Sadly, most of his initial squad ended the season playing at least one or two leagues below us. That speaks volumes.

After our initial win at Boston, we lost seven on the trot and I think Liam saw the writing on the wall, so walked.

I considered Liam a personal friend but his actions and words around the resignation period and then immediately moving on to Southport, left a bitter taste in my mouth unfortunately"

Gorski acted swiftly to fill the vacuum and appointed Paul Phillips and Steve Halford as Watson's successors.

The duo, who will be taking charge of Glossop North End this season, began life in charge of Celtic with a 3-2 victory over Gainsborough Trinity.

However the pair managed just two more wins from their following 18 games, forcing Gorski into action.

With relegation becoming an ever likelier prospect, Gorski only had one person in mind to save the club; that man being fans favourite, Steve Burr.

Having previously worked together from 2007-2010 - arguably one the best period in the clubs history - Gorski was hoping for more of the same in the final few months. He said: "I was hoping that Steve's magic would work and we could make the great escape, but when we spoke I got Steve to sign a contract up to the end of this coming season, irrespective of whichever league we were in.

I was distraught that he couldnt pull off the miracle, but I have rarely been as excited when entering a new season as I am right now with the squad that Steve, Briggsy and Fearny have assembled"

With a reputation as one of the best managers in non-league football, Burr will be expected to deliver success at Bower Fold this season.

Gorski echoes these sentiments and makes it abundantly clear that promotion is the key objective. He said: "Without wanting to put pressure on the management team or the players, I've made it very clear; I want promotion!

Some of the board, probably very wisely, wanted to slash the budget due to the enormous loss of revenue this coming season.

Weve reduced admission by 20%, weve got no Stockport County or FC United of Manchester, and less sponsorship generally.

But my view is that there is no point in having Steve Burr and giving him a paltry budget. It would be like having an Aston Martin in a 20mph zone. Pointless!"

Such is Gorski's desire to deliver promotion at the first time of asking, the budget will remain the same as last season.

And while the funds havent changed since the start of last season, Gorski's optimism definitely has.

In fact, he considers the present team to be twice as good as the squad from last season. He said: "If people missed pre-season, they have missed a classic Steve Burr team. Passing, free flowing football, scoring goals from all areas and a real joy to watch.

We are in for a tremendous season ahead. Finishing sixth will be a huge failure in my eyes. This squad has vast potential"

Although his main priorities are with the first team next season, Gorski will also be taking a keen interest in the academy setup.

Following the title winning success of last season, Gorski heaped praise on manager David Sullivan.

What's more, Gorski is also hoping that some of the academy players will be challenging for a first team spot during the forthcoming campaign: "Sully has indeed done a tremendous job and I applaud him" said Gorski.

"Numbers are up for the forthcoming academic year and the focus now is on the quality, as well as quantity.

We need more players, like Darius Osei, coming through to challenge Steve's players for a first team slot.

The academy is a really major part of the club and we intend to make it bigger and better in the years ahead"

While matters on the pitch continue to flourish Celtic ended their pre-season schedule with a 3-1 victory at Radcliffe Borough on Saturday - issues behind the scenes aren't so clear.

Regarding the clubs ground move proposal, which was announced at the end of February, Gorski said: "I've barely had communication with TMBC of late and there has only ever been that one face-to-face meeting with Cllr Quinn.

Id still very much like to achieve plan A - the relocation - but if that isnt possible (be that financially or for H&S reasons), then we shall push forward on plan B, which is upgrading Bower Fold.

As soon as I have something to report, I promise that I shall disseminate that information immediately"

Ahead of the new season, Gorski made a final appeal to some of the disillusioned supporters to return to the club. He said: "Steve has put together a really tremendous squad this summer.
Our strongest team put nine goals past Mossley and (a very good) Droylsden in just one and a half games.

This season will be a tremendous one for Celtic and I urge people to come and watch us entertain and win in style" 
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