Belford’s reflections on time at Hinckley

Outgoing manager Courtney Belford admitted leaving Hinckley AFC was a decision that took him six weeks to reach – but that he couldn’t commit the time to stay in his position.

Belford stepped down from the role after three years in charge due to work commitments. The club will be playing midweek home games on a Monday evening this season, which clashes with his business.

He guided the club to its joint-best ever league finish in his only full season in charge.

And he admitted it was an extremely difficult decision to come to. He said: “I’ve stewed over it for a good six weeks. It’s a difficult one, Monday evenings is the main reason. If that hadn’t happened I’d still be here. But running my own business alongside would mean it’s impossible to give it everything.

“I’ve only missed one game since being at the club and that was when my father-in-law passed away. I commit myself fully and the club deserves someone to do that.

“I can’t, which makes it even more disappointing to walk away. But football unfortunately has to take a backseat sometimes.”

He said he’s disappointed that he won’t get the opportunity to build on his work from the season just finished.

But he wanted to thank everyone he’s met during his time at the club for all their hard work.

“I’ve loved every minute. The Chairman gave me a chance and I’m gutted that I can’t get the club out of this level.

“It’s been a mixed bag with covid, but last season I really enjoyed it. It was just unfortunate the way it finished.

“Everyone I’ve come across – directors, volunteers, everyone has been great. I wanted to leave the club in a better place than I found it and I feel like I’ve done that. The community aspect and the fact the club feels more connected to its community, I’m proud of that more than anything.”

Belford guided the club to a number of new records this season, and we’ve run through his tenure in numbers below.

So does he have one standout moment he’ll remember from his time in charge?

“The (18-0 win in the) Vase was big, it got us national coverage.

“But we were on our knees after the Hucknall game (in October) and the lads put in a great performance on a horrible night at Lutterworth three days later. We felt like that kept us in a job at the time, we felt under pressure because we hadn’t had a great start.

“And then the final day, to get more than 800 people through the gate, it was fantastic to be a part of despite the result. There’s not one standout moment for me, but to get the community feel back is something I’ll cherish.”

Now, Joe Conneely steps up to become the club’s new manager and Belford’s given his former assistant his full backing.

“When I said I might be struggling to commit, I told the Chairman to give it to Joe. He deserves it. He was a manager when I brought him in, and he had as much responsibility as I did. We had an equal say.

“I’ve got a really good friend out of bringing him in too, and if he needs any more help I’ll be at the end of a phone.

“He was a massive part of the success we had so I expect the club to go from strength to strength under him.”

Courtney’s tenure in numbers

  • 1,118 days as manager
  • 91 matches in charge
  • They included 56 wins, 12 draws and 251 goals scored
  • A win percentage of 61.5%
  • Joint-best league finish of second in 2021/22, his only full season in charge after two covid cancellations
  • Record 18-0 win at St Martins
  • Record winning streak of 13 matches in a row from November to March

We’d like to thank Courtney for all his efforts during his time at the club and wish him all the best for the future.

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