Thomas Baillie targets National League promotion with Stratford Town

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Former Kettering Town boss Thomas Baillie has been appointed as Stratford Town’s head of football.

NEW head of football Thomas Baillie wants Stratford Town to be promoted to the Vanarama National League within two years.

The 43-year-old joined the club on Tuesday, with the role of overseeing all playing aspects at the club, while also working alongside the caretaker management duo of Steve Walker and Nathan Marsh.

Baillie joins Stratford with an impressive CV, having won the Southern League Division One Central title at a canter as joint manager of Kettering Town in 2014/15, while he also enjoyed some coaching experience with Norwich City’s academy.

He is now targeting similar success at the Arden Garages Stadium, with a club he feels holds a huge amount of untapped potential.

“The long-term plan is to get promoted,” Baillie insisted.

“There’s no pressure on the lads for this season, but we certainly want to be a Conference (National League) club after two seasons.

“This season, we want to be aiming for promotion. It’s only early in the season and anything can happen — at the moment we’re just three points off the play-offs

“Is it possible this season? It is at the moment. If we can get a run together, then the opportunity is there, to be knocking around the play-off places.

“A lot of the teams in this division are on an even keel. On their day they can beat anybody, but if it’s not their day they can come unstuck.”

This is Baillie’s first major role since that title-winning season at the Poppies, after which he took a step back from football.

Baillie felt he was not enjoying the game as much as he should have been, but a three-year break from the limelight appears to have given him renewed impetus.

He said: “I spent a number of years at Kettering and when we won the league I resigned. I fell out of interest with the game and I felt I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should have been. It’s taken a while to get that interest back, but this season I feel it’s returned.

“I’ve had offers to manage a couple of clubs, but I didn’t feel they were right for me.

“Then this came up and it works out for everyone concerned. Steve Walker and Nathan Marsh are both keen to have me here and I’ve known them a long time.”

A head of football or director of football role can often lead to a confusion for supporters.

The model has proved popular abroad, leading many clubs in the UK to follow suit with varying degrees of success.

Town are now going down that road and Baillie will be overseeing all playing aspects of the club, while offering his support to the club’s caretaker managers when required.

“I’ll be supporting Marshy and Walks,” Baillie said. “I can be alongside them in the dugout if they need me to.

“I’ll also be overseeing the club as a whole, not just the first team, but community, ladies, girls’ football — basically all aspects.”

According to Baillie, Stratford plan to bring in another two coaches to the club over the coming weeks, which is contrast to a statement from the club on Tuesday, which said the club were looking to bring in just one further ‘head’ coach.

He added: “As a club, we’ll be looking to bring in two UEFA B coaches, ultimately to support what we have already.”