Reason to believe in Burr
Kidderminster have enjoyed steady progress under Steve Burr and with experienced heads complementing a core of youthful exuberance, Harriers are well placed to build on last season’s sixth-placed finish…
While Kidderminster have occasionally flirted with financial meltdown in recent years the footballing situation at Aggborough has remained remarkably serene. First under Mark Yates and since 2010 Steve Burr, Harriers have enjoyed measured progress in the Blue Square Bet Premier but they have tended to end up as the division’s nearly men.
Three times in four seasons Kiddy have finished sixth, a place outside the play-offs, but after last year’s strong closing spell, in which the race for a spot in the top five was alive until the final day, Burr is primed to build on that placing.
Although Yates enjoyed the odd touchline fracas, Harriers have tended to duck below the limelight, ghosting into contention with little fuss and even less fanfare. And with the attention set to fall on the likes of Luton, Wrexham and Forest Green this term, the Aggborough outfit have another opportunity to sneak into the play-off chasing pack. Burr has added to an already talented squad, with journeyman defender and long-throw specialist Exodus Geohaghon arriving, along with former Burton man Ryan Austin and Ebbsfleet’s Ricky Shakes.
Crowds may have taken a hit during the club’s time away from the Football League but the manager has been handed sufficient backing to lend the fans hope of a return to League Two.
More than once last season we put on record our admiration for Burr, not only during his time at Harriers but also while in charge at Northwich Victoria. The 52-year-old’s achievements in non-league make him one of the division’s most respected figures and his assured manner tends to transmit to the players.
When Kiddy’s challenge looked to be fading last spring, the manager squeezed yet more from his squad to ensure the race for the play-offs went down to the wire. Even after defeat at rivals Luton on the penultimate weekend of the campaign, Burr wore an unflustered look; philosophical and calm. And there have been no clearouts or rash decisions based on that late disappointment. The manager knew his side came close and you get the impression he knows how to edge them closer still.
Despite the club’s recent brushes with the play-off spots, the weight of expectation at Aggborough is nothing compared to the burden the likes of Luton and Grimsby must bear.
Last season’s late dart may have come as something of a surprise and the excitement of the spring has spilled into the summer. A quiet confidence lurks over Aggborough, inspired by trust in the manager, the progress of 2012 as well as the closed-season signings, even if Geohaghon isn’t every supporter’s cup of tea.
Harriers look to have a good blend. The likes of skipper Mike Williams and midfielder Kyle Storer grew in stature last term while January acquisitions Anthony Malbon and Marvin Johnson inspired plenty of interest in the latter part of the campaign. The pair were recruited from lower down the pyramid and are certain to benefit from a full pre-season under Burr’s guidance. And the club are still holding out hope that lofty striker Jamille Matt will return to the fold after a four-month fight to remain in the United Kingdom.
With an eye for a non-league bargain as well as a healthy serving of experience, including striker Steve Guinan, who remains on the playing staff, Harriers appear to have all the ingredients to continue their encouraging progress. And although financial instability has never been too distant, this is not a club throwing everything bar the Main Stand urinals at a promotion tilt. Kiddy look to have a project in mind, one which doesn’t stand or fall on the outcome of one campaign. And that is what promotion dreams are made of.
We won’t be taking on Harriers too readily this term and while we fancy that a title tilt may just be out of reach, the club have the platform to perform. There are parallels to be drawn with recent promoted sides Accrington, Dagenham and Wimbledon – a well-managed squad with a healthy mix of youth and experience. Is that enough to trump their big-spending rivals? Maybe, just maybe.
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides during the coming days: Alfreton, Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hereford, Hyde, Lincoln, Luton, Macclesfield, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Stockport, Tamworth, Telford, Woking, Wrexham
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