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Andy Morrison celebrates a year at the helm at gap Connah's Quay Nomads
The Nomads' stats in competitive matched under Morrison's guidance
Andy Morrison along with The Nomads' matchday staff celebrating their playoff win over Airbus
Andy Morrison speaks with Billy McKinlay ahead of The Nomads' 1-0 victory over Stabaek in the UEFA Europa League
Andy Morrison gives a pre-match press conference at FK Vojvodina in the UEFA Europa League

A year in review with Andy Morrison

Date Published: Tuesday, 8th November, 2016 - 11:15am

November 2nd 2015 saw Andy Morrison appointed as The Nomads' new Manager following the departure of Allan Bickerstaff weeks earlier.

Since that appointment, Morrison has taken The Nomads from rock bottom of the Dafabet Welsh Premier League to some of their most successful performances, results and achievements in the Club's 70 year history.

Morrison started his managerial campaign at Deeside with a 4-0 victory over Carmarthen Town and went on to finish the season with a 1-0 victory over his former employers, Airbus in the Europa League Play-Offs, earning The Nomads' first ever appearance in European competition. The resulting European campaign was one that nobody could have predicted with Morrison's side heroically defeating Norwegian side Stabaek in the First Qualifying Round, before being knocked out 3-1 on aggregate by Serbian side FK Vojvodina.

The start of the 2016/17 season has seen Morrison continue his success giving The Nomads' one of their longest ever unbeaten runs having gone 14 competitive games without defeat prior to losing to TNS in late October.

The Nomads' Media Officer Nik Mesney recently sat down with Andy to look back on his year at Deeside Stadium.

NM: What was it that first attracted you to the club?
AM: The Club had shown over the previous couple of seasons, with the signings of George Horan, Les Davies, Callum Morris and a number of other quality players that they wanted to compete with the top teams in the Welsh Premier League for European football, and after speaking to the Chairman I felt that those goals were realistic.

NM: When you took over, the side was rock bottom - what was your initial goal from that position?
AM: Rightly or wrongly, I have never set targets - history will tell you what will bring success or failure. From day one, all I've focused on is the importance of the next game and giving that game my full attention. If you were to look at a run of six games coming up and think 'We should win that one... I'll take a point here... if we get anything from that game it's a bonus' - I believe your mental and physical preparation will reflect those thoughts. You just have to take one game at a time and treat it like a cup final.

NM: Your first victory came in the form of a 4-0 thumping of Carmarthen Town - what do you remember of that game?
AM: A very wet and windy day - we were organised and strong. A Nick Rushton hattrick and a late goal from Ashley Ruane gave me a start I could have only dreamed of.

NM: And then just 11 days later, your first defeat, a difficult one to take at the hands of Denbigh Town in the League Cup semi final...
AM: After beating Carmarthen and Haverfordwest, I watched Denbigh play and saw opportunities to exploit their formation. Training was excellent, the preparation was spot on and the system we went with did everything I had hoped for - we created chance after chance and I still remember the stats! We missed a penalty and had 22 shots to their three. We lost 1-0 and a harsh lesson was learnt - the quality of your defending will only give you the opportunity to win a game - the quality of your finishing will win it.

NM: Fast forward six months and the game against Airbus with a place in Europe at stake - was it written in the stars that you would end up facing your former team in such a high profile game?
AM: When I became manager of The Nomads the chances of playing Airbus in the playoff final were a million to one - we were rock bottom and they had a squad to compete with TNS and win the league, so yes, I think it must have been written in the stars.

NM: While that was one of the biggest victories in the Club's history, the biggest would surely come in July when your side defeated Norwegian side, Stabaek...
AM: The win against Airbus created the opportunity to beat Stabaek so the Airbus win was far greater in my opinion, but on a personal level, if I manage for the next 30 years I will never feel the emotions I felt before, during and after the game against Airbus. If I managed Scotland in the World Cup Final against England and we won 1-0 with the final kick of the game and the reporter asked me at the final whistle how I felt, I would say "Good, but not as good as when I beat Airbus in the Play Off Final with The Nomads. To share that moment with my family at the end of the game on the pitch is something I will treasure forever."

NM: And so far this season, second in the league having only lost one game and in the semi finals of the League Cup - things are looking a lot more positive/ compared to this time last season...
AM: We have put ourselves in a position where it is in our hands to make the top six. To have 27 points at this stage of the season having played 12 out of 14 games without a centre-half is testament to the mentality of everyone at our Club. Apart from TNS, The Top six is what the rest of us are aiming for. Last season, we made the top six for the first time and I think people forget how far we have come in just one year. I believe we still need five or six points from our last eight games to get into that top six. When a team with the quality of players and management that Newtown have can go for 10 games without a win, it tells me all I need to know just how difficult it can be to get those points.

Morrison went on to say "To have success in life and especially in the football world you need good people around you. The run we went on from my first game until the end of the season (which, by the way if the season had started then and finished when it did, we would have been champions), and our European victory over Stabaek is largely down to the staff I inherited.

On reflection, I couldn't have asked for a better Assistant Manager - the load that Jay carries is immense and his work ethic and football knowledge for such a young man is quite incredible and the continual growth and development of our academy and our coaches are testament to Jay's hard work.

I believe I have the best goalkeeping coach outside of full time football in Neil Ebbrell - if anyone wants to know the detail Neil goes into in his match preparation for our keepers, I will gladly spend hours letting you know.

In Mark Rowlands and Danny Harison I have two hungry, forward thinking coaches and Danny continues to be the model professional and sets the standards that every player from our youth teams to senior players should follow."

Morrison concluded by saying; "In the world of part time football, everyone has to work way beyond their job description, be it our physio Gemma Bamford doing work with players in her own time or Mal Latter making sure everything kit-wise is perfect for matchday when he should be resting up after work. Trevor Green answering my emails at 4am to all of the volunteers such as John and Roma Gray who make the Club and matchday run so smoothly when their only reward for their time is to share in the joy or misery of the win, draw or defeat on that day.

There are far too many to mention, so in case I have missed someone, I thank you all for your time and commitment to our Club."


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