Vauxhall Motors have had a tricky start to their Northern Premier Division One West League season, following their promotion – sealed in a game at The VanEupen Arena – in the summer.
At the time of writing, The Motormen are positioned towards the bottom of the table and have exited the Cheshire Senior Cup with a defeat at home to Crewe Alexandra.
They have also been forced to contend with losing long serving boss Mick McGraa, who has moved on to pastures new at Bootle and taken a couple of players, including midfielder Sam Hughes, with him.
Former Tranmere full-back Danny Holmes has replaced McGraa in the dugout. It is his first senior managerial role after impressing as a coach at both Colwyn Bay and Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Merseysport Live caught up with Motors’ chairman Jon Waring to see how the club have been doing in an ‘exciting’ era following on from last season’s games against promotion chasing Bury.
Jon said “Achieving promotion was a really special feeling. There was a great sense of confidence because of the way the team were performing, especially in the games against Bury – Vauxhall won both home and away – it galvanized everyone for what was to come”.
Once promotion was confirmed, attention quickly turned to recruitment, as it inevitably has to when a club is faced with the challenge of competing in a higher division.
Jon explained “From what I saw over the summer period, when talking to Mick he was really happy, all of the lads seemed to have contributed to the existing squad that was there”.
Arguably the biggest deal of the summer saw 34-year-old Craig Curran, who started his career at Tranmere having come through their youth ranks before spending a great part of his career up in Scotland, come to Ellesmere Port.
Jon commented “He has all the potential, if we can get him on the pitch he will show what he’s capable of producing”.
Losing McGraa, after he guided the club to the Cheshire Senior Cup Final in 2022 before guiding them to promotion a year later, was never going to be easy to navigate through.
Jon gave his honest feelings on the move saying that he was ‘disappointed’ but that McGraa had always been ‘honourable’ and had ‘achieved what he had promised on a constrained budget’.
“I’d still class him as a friend and wish him the best but we had to and have moved on as a club”.
It was Mick’s former assistant Joe Heath, who left in the summer to go to Australia – a move which has been delayed until mid November, that answered the call to be interim.
It was the perfect number to dial as he navigated The Motormen through the rough period well.
“Joe was the first call – he knows the club, team and staff here and he was a fantastic player and coach here with Mick. I owe him a lot of gratitude to him for coming in and galvanizing the club and making sure the team was ready for the next manager.
It meant the committee never had to rush into making the next appointment, we had time to conduct a lot of interviews and that’s what we did”.
It was Holmes that came into the club from here, a man with no managerial experience before but someone who had stood out after interviewing many.
“Ultimately all the candidates were strong, had attributes and weaknesses. However, with Danny, when he went through his plan and how he wanted to do it there was a clear structure and thought process. When you look at what he’s done and who he’s been alongside, he’s got plenty of experience.
He’s obviously confident and he will be extremely detailed. He will leave no stone unturned and will be 100% committed all the time to give himself and the club the platform to succeed”.
Just like with any manager, there may be some ‘ups and downs’. However, Jon has ‘no concerns whatsoever about this being Danny’s first senior role and he is ‘prepared to take the journey with him and support him’.
It certainly helps that the club is on a ‘sound footing’, the future does seem exciting and Jon will ensure that this is the case by looking into the matchday experience and the things around the pitch.
“We’re trying to improve all the facilities around the ground so it’s a better experience for the fans, but we also want to compete. We’re not a million miles away, we’ve got a great deal of confidence in the squad and we will set playing targets once we feel comfortable”.
Holmes started his time at Vauxhall with a great win against Clitheroe at The VanEupen Arena before conceding in the last minute on Halloween night to draw three-all with high flying Leek Town.
The Motormen are next in action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Trafford.