Andy Preece revealed that he was left disillusioned with football after his Southport exit as he prepares to make his first return to Haig Avenue with Chorley this weekend.
Preece took over at Southport in February 2017 when they were in the midst of a relegation battle. The ex-Bury, Worcester and Northwich Victoria boss could not prevent Port’s relegation from the National League.
That May, Preece was told he would not be kept on, but was invited to re-apply for his position when the new board was in place.
Preece found himself fed up with football until a call from an ex-player of his, and new Chorley boss, Jamie Vermiglio was too good to turn down.
Vermiglio had just stepped up from assistant to manager at the National League North side and asked his old Northwich boss to join his coaching staff.
Vermiglio, Preece and Jonathan Smith have since guided the Magpies to the top of the table.
And as he heads to his old side Preece says Vermiglio’s enthusiasm is infectious.
He said: “I was pretty fed up with it. The Southport thing did not go well.
“I’d been very lucky in my career before that. I’ve had really good success but Southport was probably my one time that it did not go well.
“I think it rocked me a bit because I felt like that was probably my opportunity gone.
“I did not think that was fair because I thought I’d done enough previously to get another opportunity. I ended up going out to Vietnam
coaching in an academy which was again, totally different.
“I had got a bit disillusioned. I felt a little bit bitter, a little bit sorry for myself.
“I sort of made up my mind and that I’d had enough of the English game. Then I came back and this opportunity came up.
“I’d spoken to Jamie loads of times over the last few
years and was always enthusiastic and he said, ‘Look, just come in, whether it is two months or two years, just come in and see what you think’.
“Pretty much from the time I came in I got the bug back for it.
“He’s so enthusiastic, the lads are brilliant to work with and it is a really good club.
“I’ve always loved coming to Chorley so I knew what
they were about but I still needed that little bit of a buzz, and this is the right place to be.
“I’ve just felt part of it since day one.”
Vermiglio, 36, played under Preece in the 2009-10 season at Northwich Victoria.
He left that summer to return to Victory Park and after dubbing him one of the best non-league players he had ever seen, Preece revealed that 2010 exit saw him ‘fall out’ with the midfielder.
But after making up, Preece now says he understands why Vermiglio returned to Chorley.
Vermiglio retired from football due to injury in 2014 and took on a coaching role and Preece says he is a natural.
He said: “I’d been chasing him for years and years. I watched him at Scarborough and I felt he was a Football League player and one of the best non-league players I had ever seen.
“It took a long, long time for me to get the opportunity to sign him.
“He’d probably say he was not at his best but he had nine months at Northwich and he was magnificent.
“Truth be told we did fall out over it – or I fell out with him over it – because he wanted to come back to Chorley.
“He’d agreed to sign another season at Northwich and I was going to build a team around Vermo.
“But we sorted that out.Northwich played Chorley and as soon as I saw him face to face we sorted things out.
“We kept in touch ever since. He is just a fantastic leader and it is showing again with his management.
“He just leads from the front He is so good with the way he pulls everyone in.
“I understand now why he left (Northwich) to come back. He is doing a fantastic job and his enthusiasm and detail surprised me how good he has been.
“He must have been doing a lot previously because he is almost straight into it. He is a complete natural and he will go a long way.”