Wingate part company with Rowland ‘on the best of terms’

Wingate & Finchley manager Keith Rowland (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Wingate & Finchley manager Keith Rowland (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo). - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

The Bostik Premier outfit made the announcement this morning with chairman Aron Sharpe praising the progress made under Rowland

Wingate & Finchley have parted company with Keith Rowland following last night’s 3-2 loss at Bishop’s Stortford in the Bostik Premier.

The former Braintree Town and Aveley assistant took charge at the Maurice Rebak Stadium in January 2016.

Since then, the ex-West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers defender has worked wonders in north London.

Yet a statement on the official club website this morning read: “Wingate & Finchley can announce that we have parted company with manager Keith Rowland.

“The Northern Irishman has been in charge for close to three years, and in this time has presided over two record-high league finishes for the Blues.

“In the 2016-17 season he achieved a play-off place, finishing 5th in the Isthmian Premier with 75 points.”

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Chairman Aron Sharpe added: “Keith felt that he had taken the team as far as he could; I have been absolutely delighted with the success we have had and the progress we have made with Keith as manager, and he leaves us on the best of terms.

“We both felt the time was right for a change, in particular as he continues his recovery from recent surgery.

“We wish him all the best in his next role and for the future, and he will always be welcome back at Summers Lane.”

The Blues will “announce a new manager in due course” and Wingate do not play again now until October 9 when Northwood visit in the Middlesex Charity Cup.

Rowland, as Sharpe alluded too, can depart with his head held high despite a tricky start to the current campaign.

After taking over at the start of 2016, the ex-Northern Irish international led Wingate away from danger and to a 13th-placed finish – 10 points above the bottom four.

The following campaign, the 2016/17 term, Rowland overachieved enormously as he took the team into the play-offs.

Despite having one of the lowest budgets in the division, Wingate managed to finish in fifth spot and earned themselves an unexpected shot at promotion.

Bognor Regis Town proved too strong for the Blues in the play-off semi-final, but Rowland’s men could be extremely proud of what they had achieved.

The next campaign was slightly tougher, but after a slow start, Wingate earned a more than respectable ninth spot finish.

Speaking to this title in the summer, Rowland said: “The club can’t stand still and it has to keep progressing. It is like everything in life. You have to keep going and progressing and we can’t always use the budget as an excuse for doing okay.”

But after making some changes to the playing squad in the off-season, Wingate endured a slow start to the campaign and a disjointed pre-season with the 47-year-old recovering from a hip replacement.

Yet even despite last night’s 3-2 loss at Bishop’s Stortford, the Blues remain outside of the bottom three with eight points from nine games.

A change is perhaps needed for both parties, however, but Rowland will always have a big chapter in the Wingate & Finchley history books.