Football: Allner back at Worcester as wheel turns full circle

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GRAHAM ALLNER returned to the management game this week, less than a month after leaving Kidderminster Harriers.

After 15 mostly successful years in charge of the Aggborough club, with whom he won both the Conference and the FA Trophy, Allner's services were always going to be in demand. His new task is to steer Worcester City towards the Football League.

In succeeding George Rooney at St George's Lane, Allner is returning to his roots. He played for Worcester two decades ago, winning a Southern League championship medal with them.

Paul Davies, the experienced former Kidderminster striker, rejoins Allner as his player-assistant manager after a short spell with Hednesford Town. "I am really excited at the challenge," Allner said. "Sleeping giant is an overused term in non-League football, but Worcester are an authentic case."

Worcester's chairman, Mike Sorensen, said: "The first priority is obviously promotion to the Conference as soon as possible, but our long-term target is reaching the Football League." City are securing planning permission for a 6,000-seat new stadium, with the potential to increase capacity to 20,000, which they hope to start building in 2001.

Worcester currently occupy seventh place in the Dr Martens League Premier Division, 25 points behind the runaway leaders, Nuneaton Borough. Allner's first game in charge tomorrow is, however, in the third round of the Trophy at Havant & Waterlooville.

Elsewhere in the Trophy, the holders, Cheltenham Town, entertain the Essex side Canvey Island. The tie of the round takes the Conference leaders, Kettering Town, to Kingstonian, whose manager Geoff Chapple won the tournament three times with Woking.

Woking face a home tie against Folkestone Invicta, while Rushden & Diamonds resume their quest to reach Wembley, following their FA Cup defeat at Leeds, with a trip to Graham Roberts' Slough Town side.

The latest managerial change in the Conference has seen Telford United part company with the former Burnley manager, Jimmy Mullen. His former assistant, Alan Lewer, has taken caretaker charge at the Buck's Head.

Kidderminster have put Jimmy Conway, who was Allner's No 2, in charge of team affairs for the rest of the season. He will be assisted by Phil Mullen, a former Harriers striker who has stepped down as manager of Redditch United.