Thursday Apr 3, 2014
In his third piece for thelambs.co.uk Colin Stoner asked Dale Belford about putting friendship on hold for 90 minutes as Tamworth fight for survival against promotion-chasing Gateshead on Saturday. The trip to the north-east pits the Lambs boss against a man who had two spells as manager at the Lamb, Gary Mills, who steered Tamworth to the Conference Premier in 2009.
The present and past incumbents of the Lamb hotseat have very different targets, as Belford looks to keep Tamworth in non-League’s top tier and Mills, appointed boss at the International Stadium, Gateshead last September, aims to take the Heed back into the Football League for the first time in 54 years.
Belford regards Mills, a European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest, as a huge influence on his coaching and managerial career.
“Gary is a mentor of mine, everybody knows that,” said Belford. “He is an absolutely fantastic guy and he is a great manager.
“Just look at what he’s done at Gateshead. When he went there, they were looking as if they were in relegation trouble. All of a sudden they look like they are going to get promoted.
“I will look forward to seeing him but we’ll put that friendship aside for 90 minutes on Saturday. I’m sure he will be in touch during the week telling me how good he is but, no, he is a great guy.”
Tamworth, who start a run of three away games in succession, will be desperate to repeat last season’s 3-0 win at the International Stadium to grab a lifeline in their fight to beat the drop.
But Gateshead, who moved into third place in the Skrill Premier after last Saturday‘s win against Braintree, have chalked up four victories in five outings.
“Gateshead are a good footballing side as we all know and it is going to be a tough game,” said Belford.
“But they are all tough games. If you look at the next two fixtures, going to Gateshead and Luton, everybody is going to write us off and say we’re not going to get any points but you never know.
“The commitment the players are showing at the moment gives us an opportunity, a chance wherever we play whoever we play. If we play like we have in the last few games, who knows.”