Lee Minshull: Concord Rangers, Wimbledon and the role of assistant manager

You signed for Concord Rangers in 2018 and you are currently assistant manager.
How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and who would you describe a club
such as Concord Rangers?

My time at Concord Rangers has been quite enjoyable. I played during the first season that I was there and they I stayed on as player / assistant manager I decided to take that step whilst I was at the club which has been interesting having picked up a few injuries too. Concord Rangers is a good club to be involved in.

Concord Rangers are a club that has traditionally punched above it’s weight and it has helped to launch the careers of both players and managers as in the case of Danny Cowley. They are a club that tries to look after people and tries to do things in the right way. It has been an enjoyable couple of years so far.

You had a two season spell at AFC Wimbledon. How do you look back on your
time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Yes, AFC Wimbledon signed me from Tonbridge Angels F.C and it was the first year that
they decided to go full time and would train full time during the week. Their aim was to bridge
that gap between being a part time and full time team and ultimately get back in the Football League. We got promoted via the play-offs beating Luton Town on penalties at the City of
Manchester Stadium which was a great highlight.

Credit: Julian Osley

It took AFC Wimbledon just nine years from reforming to getting back in the Football League. I also made my Football League debut for AFC Wimbledon which was another highlight coming on as a substitute at home against Bristol Rovers. We lost that game 3-2 but after that we went on a bit of a good run and had a half decent start to the season. So to be a part of that club is definitely a highlight of my career and I am really grateful that the club took me that year and gave my the chance to play football full time.

You were loaned to Newport County and went on to sign for the club and spend
three seasons there. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have
any special memories or highlights?

Yes definitely. I believe that my time at Newport County is the period of my career that I look back with the most fondness and probably where I performed to my maximum as well. AFC Wimbledon had hit a bad patch in terms of form and the manager made the decision for some players to leave and I was one of them. Newport County were in trouble at the time and they were trying to stay up in the Conference Premier and we had a manager in Justin Edinburgh who has sadly passed away unfortunately.

Credit: Brian Minkoff

He phoned me up and said come down, give me a month and see how you enjoy it and I ended up staying at the club for three and a half years.

It was a great period in my career. I also go the chance to play at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final and the following season we got promoted to the Football League beating Wrexham 2-0 at Wembley which made it an all Welsh final and I believe that when I got promoted the second time I was more ready to be a Football League player. When I first got promoted with AFC Wimbledon I was not quiet were I needed to be to compete at that level. I think I just needed a step back in order to go forward again.

You have accrued a lot of experience playing at different levels of English football. Could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Yes, At Newport County I was quiet lucky where I played with some really good players early on in their career who went on to secure good moves Andrew Hughes went on to Peterborough United and then Preston North End.

Reagan Paul got a move as a 17 year old to Manchester United and also Conor Washington went first to Peterborough United and then QPR and Lee Evans got a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers and he is currently at Wigan Athletic so they are all players that I played with who have gone on to do well and we had a good solid team who all worked hard and done well for each other.

Danny Kedwell at AFC Wimbledon who played up front. We were not favourites to get promoted and at times he carried us forward and he also scored the winning penalty against Luton Town in the play-off final to send us up.

I can imagine in your position as a midfielder that you have come up against some difficult opponents through the years. Could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Credit: Nick / Flickr

I remember the cup runs and sometimes you come up against better teams and better players in terms of standard. I remember playing against Brighton & Hove Albion and West Bromwich Albion in the same season in the League Cup and that tells you the difference in level. West Brom played a really strong team their midfield that night was Claudio Yacob, Graham Dorrans and Chris Brunt and those three players as a midfield three were really good and it showed you the level you needed to be at in order to compete at that level.

Credit: Ronnie MacDonald / Flickr

Scott Sinclair and Saido Berahino also played in that game and it cup competitions it gives you the
chance to play against players that have played in the Premier League In terms of players that I played against in the Football League and at my level Kemar Roofe stood out. I played against him at Oxford United.

He is now playing for Rangers who are one of the biggest clubs in the U.K. I also played against Danny Murphy in a friendly once when he played for Fulham FC and he was of a different level. I could not get near him.

You mentioned Justin Edinburgh at Newport County. Could you say which coaches and managers meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

I think I have been quiet lucky where I have had some good relationships with my managers. Tommy Warrilow at Tonbridge Angels F.C. He now manages Ashford United and he took me and he took me from a decent Non League player to a player who could potentially kick on and he improved me a lot in a short space of time I scored a lot of goals for Tonbridge Angels F.C that particular season and that put me in the transfer window for the bigger clubs.

I must mention and thank Terry Brown who was the manager who gave me the chance to play full time at AFC Wimbledon and he also gave me my Football League debut and I believe that if I had been a little bit more experience I could have done really well for him.

Credit: Stew Jones

It goes without saying that Justin Edinburgh was the man that made it all tick and he showed great belief in me and as a group of players who really wanted to play for him and what he did at Newport County that year and the following couple of years at Leyton Orient was superb and I believe other players would say the same.

Justin Edinburgh’s man management skills were brilliant and you never felt like you was out of it. You always came in on a Monday morning and felt good even if you had not played or you had been out injured or even a bit down you always felt like you had a chance and that he cared and you felt that even if it did not work out under
him then he would make sure that he looked after you and put you out to a good club and I think that he was improving all the time and he was not afraid to take things on and use them moving forward.

What he achieved at Leyton Orient as well taking that club from near relegation to promotion shows what he was able to get out of a group of players and it was a shame that we did not get to see him crack on in the Football League with Leyton Orient.

Rest in Peace Justin Edinburgh. Credit – Nzd

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