Home   Kent   Sport   Article

A decade of Champions: Looking back at the 2012/13 season when Jamie Day's Welling United won the Conference South title

Manager Jamie Day is facing World Cup qualifiers with Bangladesh but it's the title win at Welling United in 2013 that remains his biggest highlight.

It takes something special to win a league title. We're looking back at some of the Kent sides who have managed it in the last decade and Day talks us through that memorable year in charge of the Wings.

Jamie Day lifts the trophy Picture: Keith Gillard (34723363)
Jamie Day lifts the trophy Picture: Keith Gillard (34723363)

BACKGROUND TO THE SEASON

When Jamie Day was appointed Welling manager in November 2009, leaving Dartford, the Wings general manager Barry Hobbins said: "Every manager is a gamble. We'll only know in time if we've got this right." They got it right.

There was a five-year plan to get promotion and Daisy did it in three.

Prior to their title-winning season they had lost in the final of the play-offs, losing in the 2012 final against the Darts.

"We lost a couple of players in the summer," Day recalled.

"Jack Parkinson and Andy Pugh (the previous January) went to other clubs but we had the base of the squad still, eight to 10 players."

Day set about strengthening with additions such as Ross Lafayette, who wasn’t with a club, Fraser Franks joined after being released by Wimbledon, while Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Sam Mott and Scott Kinch all joined.

"They bedded in really well after the first three months," Day said.

Fraser Franks on the ball Picture: Keith Gillard (34723780)
Fraser Franks on the ball Picture: Keith Gillard (34723780)

HOW DID THE SEASON START?

"We didn’t start the season particularly great," Day said.

"We were around eighth place at Christmas and I thought we would be in a better position than that, because we had done so well the year before.

"The lads that were there before started a bit slow and the new lads took a little bit of time to adjust, coming from other clubs.

"Around Christmas time we went on an unbeaten run of 12-13 games, winning them all, and that kicked us on to win the league.

Jon Main nets for the Wings Picture: Keith Gillard (34723784)
Jon Main nets for the Wings Picture: Keith Gillard (34723784)

WHAT WERE THE KEY GAMES?

"When we were on that winning run there were a couple of games that stood out.

"We were beating Basingstoke and they missed a penalty, right at the end.

"There was the game against Truro when we were 3-1 down at half-time but came back in the second half and won 4-3.

"Truro were struggling that season but wiped the floor with us first half.

"The turning point for us though was Maidenhead away, when we lost 2-1. We gave the players a bit of a dressing down and that was when the run started, that kick started the season and we didn't look back from there."

Captain Lee Clarke lifts the trophy Picture: Keith Gillard
Captain Lee Clarke lifts the trophy Picture: Keith Gillard

WHO WAS THE SKIPPER?

"Lee Clarke. Before I joined the club I had watched them a few times and he stood out as a strong character, on and off the pitch.

"He was the captain before I got the job and once I spoke to him I knew that he was the right person and someone I wanted to keep.

"He controlled the dressing room and if I told him something needed doing, or was unhappy with something, he would normally be the first one to try and sort it out before it came to me. 90% of the time he got things in the dressing room sorted out quickly.

"He was a good leader on the pitch, he led by example with his performances and was a key player really."

Ross Lafayette with the Conference South trophy Picture: Keith GIllard (34723361)
Ross Lafayette with the Conference South trophy Picture: Keith GIllard (34723361)

WHO WERE THE STAR MEN?

"Ross Lafayette scored 20 plus, Kiernan Hughes-Mason got 15 and Kurtis Guthrie was scoring too, everyone chipped in.

"But I think the one player who always stood out for us was probably Joe Healy.

"He's a fantastic payer and I have said many times he should have been playing a much higher level, but he was happy doing what he was doing.

"He was a good lad in the dressing room but a step above everyone else on the pitch. He would often be the match-winner or have that key pass to put someone else in. Over the course of the season and during my time at Welling he was a key one for us.

Sam Mott in action and making a save Picture: Keith Gillard (34723772)
Sam Mott in action and making a save Picture: Keith Gillard (34723772)

ANY UNSUNG HEROES?

"Kiernan Hughes-Mason was a forward who scored 15 goals, but because Ross scored more he got more of the headlines.

"Scott Kinch for us was a fantastic squad player, he knew the games when he was needed, knew when he wasn't going to play and he accepted it, never any issue.

"He was always fully behind the team and there were some real tough games. If it was a Tuesday night in December, freezing cold, he would be the first name on the team-sheet. He would be the one who would lead us and win those types of games.

"He doesn’t really get mentioned because when you win a league people look at the good goals you score and how you play but he was just as big as anyone in that team."

Joe Healy in action Pictue: Keith Gillard (34723776)
Joe Healy in action Pictue: Keith Gillard (34723776)

THE RIVALS

"Salisbury had a really good team and they were full-time. They were the ones who led for the majority of the season and Dover as well, being local-ish to Welling, they were the two main rivals.

"Those were teams we looked at and thought we would have to be better than them to win the league.

"Chelmsford was always a tough one, because they are the other side of the water as well, that adds a bit of spice to it.

"Havant were paying quite a bit of money as well so they were probably the four main clubs that we looked at and thought they were the ones we would need to beat to get promoted."

Welling United celebrate the Conference South title Picture: Keith Gillard (34723357)
Welling United celebrate the Conference South title Picture: Keith Gillard (34723357)

HOW WAS THE RUN-IN?

"After we lost the unbeaten run we stumbled a bit, for four or five games.

"We could have won the league earlier but we dropped a few points and we let Salisbury get that gap closed again.

"There were four or five games where we were winning and then we would get pegged back and it got a bit tight but with three or four games to go we managed to kick on and get the job done.

"We went to Boreham Wood, second to last, we just needed a point and we got that with a 1-1 draw.

"We had Eastleigh at home last game, we got the trophy that day, there was a good crowd who came to support us. It was really good to have done it and then show the trophy off at home.

"I don't go out with the players during the course of a season but we all went out together and our sponsor was a local nightclub, and it’s still there. Pure nightclub. We had the presentation after the game and then we went to the club.

"I went home at a reasonable hour but I think they stayed out for another 24, certainly well into Sunday! I didn’t see that side of it but we were done.

Welling United celebrate the Conference South title Picture: Keith Gillard (34723359)
Welling United celebrate the Conference South title Picture: Keith Gillard (34723359)

POST SEASON;

Jamie Day left the Wings in 2014 to join Ebbsfleet United, ending a five year spell at the club.

He would end up as assistant manager at Gillingham, he appeared as a player for Cray Valley and then had a spell as no.2 to Ady Pennock at Barrow, before taking over as the Bangladesh national manager.

"There have been lots of ups and downs and highs and lows and great experiences," he said.

"I wouldn't have thought I would end up where I am at the minute but that is football, you never know where your next job is going to be and how it’s going to go but that title win was probably the highlight of managing.

"Doing the World Cup at the minute is fantastic but I won’t forget winning the league."

Read more from our 'Decade of Champions' series;

Part 1: Herne Bay 2011/12

Part 2: Folkestone Invicta 2015/16

Part 3: Faversham Town 2009/10


More by this author


Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More