Being sacked from one job in one day is unfortunate but not usual, but being sacked from two jobs is the fate that a former Jose Mourinho man suffered
Monday 10th September was not an ordinary day in the life of the former Chelsea defender Steve Watt.
Shortly after 9am he posted a message to his 884 Instagram followers announcing that with regret his time as caretaker manager of Maidstone United had come to an end. The National League side had appointed Harry Wheeler, formerly of Billericay, as their new boss.
The Billericay vacancy was still unfilled however and the good news for Watt was that owner Glenn Tamplin wanted him to take over.
The bad news was that Tamplin goes through managers like Liza Minelli goes through husbands, with significantly less warmth.
🙈 Billericay Town owner Glenn Tamplin sacked new manager Steve Watt just TWO hours after hiring him after finding out that he had a dig at the club in the previous season
It's an absolute circus there! pic.twitter.com/WXISAgssIv
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) September 12, 2018
Tamplin unveiled the new man to his players at 2pm, by adding them to their WhatsApp group. A few hours later, it was all over. At 5.30pm he said: “I had to sack him bcoz he was slagging us off.”
In the intervening three-and-a-half hours Tamplin had apparently become aware of a press conference during which the Aberdonian had besmirched the good name of Billericay.
The irony was that Watt, an Aberdonian handed his Chelsea debut by Jose Mourinho in 2005 before joining Swansea a year later, was one of the few people on the circuit who hadn’t “slagged” Tamplin off.
Dubbed the Donald Trump of non-league football for his orange hue and his “erratic” twitter outbursts, Tamplin made so much money from the steel industry that in 2017 he was named, by the Essex Power List 100, as the second most powerful man an Essex.
He was reportedly rebuffed by a number of football clubs before buying Billericay, a previously stable team operating in English football’s seventh tier, in 2016. Tamplin installed himself as manager and began spending unheard of sums on wages.
It used to be normal to see ex-top flight players drop down the divisions in their twilight years. Four years after scoring the winning penalty in the 1984 European Cup final shoot-out, Alan Kennedy was playing in the fifth tier for Northwich, around about the time Aston Villa’s European Cup winning captain Dennis Mortimer was in the same division with Kettering.
The wage-explosion of the early nineties changed that, apparently forever, as the more astute players found they could earn enough in a couple of seasons to be able to retire in comfort when the time came.
A dwindling number did carry on for the love of it (Chelsea and Leicester cult hero Frank Sinclair was playing for Colwyn Bay well into his forties) but that was BT. Before Tamplin.
Paul Konchesky, who’d played for a host of top clubs, and Tottenham, joined the Ricay Revolution. Jermaine Pennant followed, as did Jamie O’Hara.
I will be speaking to some experienced names over the next few days that I promise will fill the void left by Harry Tristan and Craig’s departure.
really pleased for Harry with the Maidstone role and want to say thanks to Tristan and Craig for their time at the club. https://t.co/LuKxG4hYec
— Glenn Tamplin (@glenntamplin) September 11, 2018
By the time Tamplin was giving his pre-game speech to Ricay, before a League Cup Final with Tonbridge, in which he can be seen, close to tears, saying he wants to “rip out the beating heart” of his opponent while R Kelly’s “I am a Mountain” plays in the background, the club’s weekly wage bill was allegedly £25,000 per week, a figure not even dented by their average attendance of around 500.
This was never going to end well. Ricay got promoted to the sixth tier last year, but only after Tamplin had fired himself as manager, reinstated himself a couple of days later, before giving way to Wheeler.
Tamplin subsequently denied sacking Wheeler “by text message”, 10 minutes before the end of a match, but his PR strategy backfired when he gave an interview to the National League website that resulted in one of the all-time great Twitter pile-ons. Citing this abuse, Tamplin put Billericay up for sale, though at the time of writing there have been surprisingly few takers. (Readers are advised to check back in an hour as the situation is fluid).
We’ll leave the final word to Watt, who gave a brilliant, valedictory interview to a local reporter, saying:
“It was a pleasure working with the boys. It’s probably one of the best squads I’ve ever worked with.”