Baffins bring back Wilkinson as new boss

Baffins Milton Rovers have brought Shaun Wilkinson back to the club as first-team manager.

The former Hawks midfielder and Gosport Borough assistant manager replaces Steve Leigh, who had been in charge of the Wessex League Premier Division club since early-2018.

Rovers chairman Steve Cripps said the club’s committee had made the change to allow Leigh more time to watch and support his son Tommy.

Leigh was given permission to miss a handful of Baffins games in 2019-20 so he could watch Tommy play for Isthmian League club Bognor.

‘Steve has been a fantastic manager and it is purely down to our requirements to have a manager present at every match, as opposed to this season where we agreed that Steve could watch his son’s progress at Bognor on a flexible arrangement,’ said Cripps.

‘We felt that as Tommy progresses Steve would feel the urge to get more involved with his son’s career, which is 100 per cent the right thing to do. The lad has the ability to go all the way to professional football and, whilst Steve questioned our strategy in bringing in a new manager, we just reinforced that his son’s playing career was more important than managing our side. It was better to act now than have to face the decision mid-season.’

Leigh continued Baffins’ impressive rise during his time in charge. The club had come a long way quickly – progressing from the Portsmouth Saturday League to the top flight of the Wessex between 2013 and 2017.

Under Leigh, Baffins finished fifth in his first full season (2018-19) and also defeated Portland to win the Wessex League Cup.

‘Steve Leigh can return to management to just about any club in the Wessex premier as and when he wants to,’ Cripps continued.

‘He is a highly-sought-after manager and a fantastic person both on and off the pitch. ‘Therefore, whilst I am sure that there will be various different versions of why we took this decision, I can assure you that this is the only reason. ‘Steve and his family and welcome at Baffins any time.

‘I would like to thank Steve for all the hard work he has put in over the past two years and wish his son well progressing forward in the next step in his career.’

Baffins endured a frustrating 2019-20 season. Due to a raft of postponements at their PMC Stadium, they were well behind on their fixtures by the time the season was halted in mid-March. They still had 15 league games to play – eight more than some teams in their division – and were seventh from bottom. They also reached the quarter finals of the Wessex Cup, and were through to the semi-finals of the Portsmouth Senior Cup.

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