Craig Salmon’s Sporting Soapbox: Jim Bentley right to swap Morecambe for AFC Fylde

Former Morecambe boss Jim Bentley speaks to the Press after being announced as the new AFC Fylde manager
Former Morecambe boss Jim Bentley speaks to the Press after being announced as the new AFC Fylde manager

It certainly feels like the end of era this week in Lancashire Post towers following the resignation of Jim Bentley as manager of Morecambe Football Club.

I personally have spent a number of hours over the years – less so in recent times – driving up the M6 to interview Bentley, who has taken charge of National League outfit AFC Fylde, in his office at the Globe Arena ahead of the Shrimps’ weekly fixtures.

An imposing figure physically, Bentley is actually one of the nicest, most down-to-earth fellas you would ever wish to meet and nothing was ever too much trouble for him.

He and his assistant manager Ken McKenna enjoyed engaging in a bit of a banter with the Press and were known for the odd practical joke.

I always remember interviewing Bentley when I noticed a big roll of £50 notes curled up on the floor in his office.

The Shrimps boss managed to keep a straight face as I peered several times at what appeared to be a ludicrous amount of cash just lying on the floor.

It was only after the interview had finished that Bentley picked up the ‘big wad of cash’ to reveal that it was in actual fact toilet paper. We all saw the funny side, but Bentley’s long stint at the head of the Shrimps was no laughing matter at times as he continually fought a battle to keep the club in the Football League.

There was certainly not much cash 
lying around to help Bentley in his quest to boost his player pool.

He was left to delve into non-league football to unearth talent which had escaped the clutches of the professional game or polish-up other clubs’ cast-offs. It is a great testament to him that he has managed to mastermind the club’s survival each season, especially when they have had to compete against much better resourced and bigger clubs.

It is a shame that he leaves the Shrimps – who he also served for a decade as a player and captain – with the team rooted to the bottom of League Two.

If he had stayed, would he have managed to cajole the club out of the drop zone once again? You would not bet against it, but then there is the feeling that this season was one too far for both parties.

After 17-plus years associated with the club, I think a change and fresh outlook suits everybody.

Although Bentley has stepped down a level to take charge of the Coasters, the expectation level is arguably far greater at Mill Farm than it is at the Globe Arena.

Armed with club owner David Haythornthwaite’s financial clout, Bentley will face a different challenge.

He will have money to spend and promotion will be demanded, not just from this division but beyond as well.