News & EventsLatest NewsCalendar
Jamie Milligan on the 2022/23 season in review, summer plans and more

Jamie Milligan on the 2022/23 season in review, summer plans and more

Ryan Smart12 May 2023 - 20:41
Share via

Just over a week on from Brig's NPL Premier Division play-off final loss to Warrington Town, we sat down with Jamie Milligan to review the season.

Brig finished a superb third in the regular season, before triumphing over Gainsborough Trinity in the play-off semi-final on a dramatic evening at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

The play-off final would eventually be decided by a single goal in stoppage time, which left Brig devastated.

But while that pain still remained on the Monday evening, thoughts quickly turned to a recognition of just how well Brig had done over the course of the season to even get that close to promotion to the National League North.

And with that game now over, all the focus for Milligan and his staff will be preparing for next season, with pre-season scheduled to get underway in just over one month's time.

Since then, Brig's transfer business has gotten underway, with Aaron Skinner, Matty Thomson and Paul Dawson departing the club, and midfielder Danny Edwards coming in.

We chatted to the Brig boss to get his thoughts on what the summer planning could look like, as well as a reflection on the season just gone.

Interview by club secretary Scott Ward

Although we imagine it is probably difficult at the moment to review and process, how would you reflect on the season overall? Is there any stand out moment / moments looking back?

JM: "Although the defeat is still raw (and probably will be for some time), I think the season has been a massive success for the club as we did relatively well in the FA Cup, we got to the semi-final of the Lancashire County Cup and reached the play-off final, whilst finishing third in an incredibly tough league.

"Even though those within the club, the fans and everyone I speak to have said it’s been the best season they have ever seen, I still can’t help but see it as a failure because we didn’t win anything! I know that’s possibly a slightly negative way to view it, and possibly some of the raw emotion from Monday, but I’m a competitive person and believed we could win promotion and we just fell short.

"We did have some unbelievable stand-out moments though - the play-off semi-final victory on penalties in particular - and have had some great wins throughout the season, scoring some superb goals and playing some brilliant football."

The players have been brilliant all season and there’s been a real togetherness in the squad, what do you put that down to?

"I can’t speak highly enough of the players. They have given me everything this season. We have had fallouts, laughs, ups and downs but the main thing this group had was the togetherness to dig each other out of the s**t when needed.

"All the teams I have coached from U9s to adult football, I’ve always worked hard on getting the team spirit right as the players have to enjoy what they’re doing, and then I firmly believe that will then show on the pitch in their performances and results.

"I know I won’t be able to keep this team together, but to me, although disappointing, is just a reflection of how well they have done individually and as well as a group.

We’re sure you’ll take a bit of a well-earned break first, but looking ahead to next season, what are your initial thoughts as we head into a busy summer period?

"I definitely need a break, as it’s been a long and draining season, but I’m already looking to build and make the squad stronger by adding a bit more experience and steel into the ranks, as we are a young team and these young lads need help and a bit of experience/know-how sometimes."

All the lads have been outstanding this season, how tough is going to be to keep this group together?

"Unfortunately, this group will 100 per cent be splitting up, that’s just where we are as a club in the pyramid.

"In my job as manager, I promised a lot of them I would coach them and make them better players and hopefully give them the opportunity to play higher and if I have done that, then I feel I’ve done my job to an extent.

"However, we also can’t keep being that club that produces/develops players and then they move on and I/we have to start again. I know it’s tough financially for us to compete with some of the bigger clubs at this level, but I feel the club has to seize this current opportunity and build on the momentum of this season and look to build, develop and grow the club model behind the scenes to help the club move forward and take that next step.

"The opportunity is now and we can’t miss it. Having said that - if the club can’t do some of that, then I’m sorry to say I may not be here! I’m ambitious as a manager and have given my all over the past two years and would love to build something at this club, but we have to all match some (sustainable) ambition, otherwise what are we in it for?

"This club has a lot of tremendous volunteers behind the scenes and people will know it’s a great little club to play football for as the facilities are great (especially the pitch – with a particular special mention to Sam and Luke for their efforts this year), but it needs to move forward and evolve, and I believe everyone knows that and now needs to do what they can to help that."

Jamie, thank you for your open and honest answers, which must have been tough given Monday is so raw! Do you have any final thoughts?

"I just want to say a massive thank you to all my staff, as they have helped me so much this season and have been brilliant, all the volunteers behind the scenes who are a credit to the club, the fans who have been brilliant all season and we have had some great and memorable away trips that will stay with me!

"But, I want to say the biggest thank you to the players, who I’ve demanded a lot from and at times I imagine they have hated me, but I have a brilliant relationship with them all and always have done, and I hope when they get older they can look back at this and look at it as a memorable season that they won’t forget!"

Further reading