Exclusive interview: Sacked ex-Bellshill Athletic boss Derek Wilson hits back at his former club

Sacked ex-Bellshill Athletic gaffer Derek Wilson has given his side of the story behind his recent dismissal, which triggered the entire playing squad and the rest of the coaching staff joining him in leaving the club.

Sacked Bellshill Athletic boss Derek Wilson has hit back at his former club (Submitted pic)
Sacked Bellshill Athletic boss Derek Wilson has hit back at his former club (Submitted pic)

Wilson – who has since been replaced by Gary Ellliott - left in hugely acrimonious circumstances in October after 18 months at the West of Scotland League Conference A outfit.

Expalining the circumstances in the run up to his departure, Wilson told the Times and Speaker: “We had a smashing side doing really well and the players were playing for nothing.

"The players asked for a meeting with myself and the coaching staff because they couldn’t see how the club was going forward and they put in a vote of no confidence against the committee.

"So if all 19 players sign a vote of no confidence I’m going to back my players and so did the staff.

"We proceeded to have a meeting with six of the committee and we weren’t really getting anywhere with what we were trying to say to them.

"One person on the committee was sniggering, laughing, walking away and treating it as if it was a meeting in a playground.

"At the top of her voice she said: ‘This is all your faults, I can’t be putting up with this’ and walked away.

"I turned round and said I wasn’t going to have anyone talking like that when we put all this time and effort in.

"After the players heard what happened they said they weren’t going to go to training or the game on the Saturday.

"I got sacked on the Friday the following week.”

The main source of the bust up centres around what Wilson claimed was the failure of the current committee to carry on with work on upgrading the clubhouse – burnt down by yobs in April 2020 – after he, players and coaches had put in many hours doing improvement works.

Wilson said: “At the start of last season myself, captain Drew Lindsay, assistant manager Davie Menelaws and the full committee – as in the ones that were there before and three or four of the ones that are in just now – all worked on building the clubhouse.

"Between the end of last season and the start of this, we did 19 Saturdays working eight-hour shifts on that clubhouse, under instruction from Drew who is a joiner.

"It was hard work. We erected the clubhouse, we put the foundations down, put a roof on it, made it watertight, did all the sheeting inside, put the windows in, Davie Menelaws got them, and put up the crowd barriers by hand, under the guidance of our physio John Lindsay – Drew's father – who is 67 years old.

"Davie Menelaws brought in about £10,000 to the club and the club never paid a penny towards that. I think it’s a total disgrace.”

Wilson claimed he then gave the Bellshill committee two weeks’ warning that he and his colleagues had to stop the work doing work on the clubhouse as he needed to concentrate fully on starting pre-season training.

He added: "The two weeks came and went and the clubhouse to this day is still sitting the same way as it was on the day we stopped working on it at the start of pre-season this season.

"There's no doors on it, there’s no security. The walls inside it are needing painted, the lights are needing put up, the floor’s needing redone.

"The bespoke bar that they said they were getting is half done. So they’re still miles off it.

"Once we started taking the team to build up for this season, there was nothing done by the committee to get the ground fixed.

"These players were coming down and seeing there was no progress getting done with the clubhouse or fund-raising to fund the players and we’re promising them that they’re going to be getting a wage next season with the crowd that we’re bringing in.

"The committee should have been sorting that.”

Wilson said that Bellshill Athletic would “go nowhere” under the current committee, saying they lacked the required experience to successfully run the team.

"They have experience of running an academy,” he added. “Don’t take anything away from them, they have done really well with the academy.

"But to run a junior team you need somebody that’s been there a length of time or involved in playing in the junior game. They do not have a clue about running that.”

He claimed that the committee hadn’t even had to pay for this season’s club training gear, tracksuits and footballs as they had been funded by sponsorship from Menelaws.

"We had 200 people at the first game of the season against Lesmahagow,” he said. "Say 50 of them were kids, that leaves 150 adults paying £6 a pop. I didn’t see where the money went as no books were produced so we didn’t know where money was going.

"The committee were just treating it like a boys club.”

Wilson – who is keen to arrange an SFA investigation into the goings on at the club – said that several of the 19 players he had at Athletic had now been snapped up by other clubs, showing what a good team the club could have had if they’d stayed.

"I’m mostly disappointed for the boys because they could have been earning money for the last season and they weren't.

"They came to Bellshill because they thought we were going in the right direction and they trusted myself and David.

"They are absolutely devastated. My main priority now is to look after these boys, make sure they get another club and that they are treated properly.”

Wilson said he wouldn’t rule out returning to football management in the future.

A Bellshill Athletic spokesperson responded to his comments by saying: “There are two sides to every story. Our main objectives have not changed. It’s always to do what’s best for Bellshill Athletic Football Club.”