Gander steps down as Lancers manager

MARTIN Gander has stepped down as Lancing Football Club manager after six-and-a-half seasons, although intends to stay involved with the club.

Martin Gander
Martin Gander

Gander felt the time was right to step down as manager after Lancers finished 13th in County League Division 1 and he said: “It’s been hard for the last couple of months, with the amount of games we’ve had to play, work and everything else.

“I started to think about next season and felt that if I couldn’t do the club justice, then it might be time to move on.

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“I’ve been here six-and-a-half years and maybe was getting a bit stale and I think this decision will benefit the club and me.

“It would have been the easy decision to carry on but I didn’t want to un-do what I had done at the club.”

Gander took over as Lancing boss in January, 2007, and they finished 14th in Division 2 that season.

The following campaign, Gander oversaw a 12th-placed finish in a season when the club did not play any home games until January because of groundwork going on at Culver Road.

Lancers ended the 2008-09 season in ninth place, while also reaching the Division 2 Cup semi-finals, before Lancing came 11th the following year.

Jason Rutherford joined Gander as joint manager for the 2010-11 season and they finished runners-up in County League Division 2 to gain promotion into Division 1 for the first time since 2000-01. And they also reached the fourth round of the FA Vase that season.

The following campaign, Lancing finished second in the top flight of the County League – their best finish for 48 years – as they finished only three points behind champions Three Bridges.

Rutherford left Lancing at the end of that season to leave Gander in sole charge again last season and, after a bright start, they won just three games after Christmas to finish in 13th place.

On his highlights as Lancers boss, Gander said: “Winning promotion from Division 2 and almost winning Division 1 were highlights as the second place was the highest the club had finished for about 40 years.

“But also keeping the club in Division 2 when we didn’t have a home ground meant a lot to me.”

Gander, who said “never say never” to taking another management role, is now likely to join the board at Lancing and said: “I’ve been offered a place on the board, with the view of taking over as chairman, and we’ll make sure the next manager is the right appointment for the club.

“We want Lancing to be a community football club and want people to support the club from all across the area.

“Whatever role I have at the club, it’s my local team and we’ve got to make sure we get the right people involved to take the club forward.”

A longer term goal for Gander would see Lancing compete in the Ryman League and he said: “It’s a possibility and why not.

“The club has got everything here to be the top club in the area but, first of all, we’ve got to make sure we’re an established Division 1 side and get things right off the pitch. If we do that, there’s no reason why we can’t push on.”