Football / Non-League Notebook: Allner's loyalty puts Harriers in line for promotion

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THE GM Vauxhall Conference leaders, Kidderminster Harriers, travel to Dagenham and Redbridge tomorrow seeking their ninth successive league win. If they succeed, they will equal a Conference record held jointly by Wycombe Wanderers, who achieved the feat last year, and Altrincham (1984).

Harriers' dramatic winning run started in mid-September, when they were one place off the bottom of the table. Now they lead the pack by two points from Southport, following their impressive 5-1 win at Slough last weekend. With ongoing development work bringing Aggborough, their stadium, up to the required standard, they can look forward to sustaining a realistic challenge for promotion to the Football League.

Guiding the playing fortunes of the Worcestershire club is their manager, Graham Allner, who celebrated a decade in charge at Kidderminster last Sunday. Harriers' healthy progress highlights the benefits of continuity, for their chairman, David Reynolds, has been in office for 12 years.

'We have worked together through the good and the bad times,' Reynolds said yesterday. 'When he took over we were bottom of the Conference - a triangle had more points than we did.'

Harriers have not been relegated in Allner's 10 years in charge. 'Two seasons ago, when we looked like going down, the fans were baying for his blood,' Reynolds said. 'Graham lost his way for a while, but we helped him through it, rather than sack him.'

'Graham is the Marje Proops of football,' Reynolds added. 'If a player has a problem, Graham will talk it through until the player is right in the head.'

Allner, who has served his 10 years without a contract, remains cautious about his team's abilities: 'The 1985-86 team, which finished third in the league, was better than the current side, which needs to prove itself over a longer period.'

One player with nothing to prove in terms of loyalty is the veteran forward, Paul Davies, who arrived at Harriers a week before Allner. He is due to make his 500th first-team appearance for his home-town club at Dagenham tomorrow.

Tommy Cassidy, the former Northern Ireland international, has resigned as the manager of Gateshead. Wilf Rostron, the former Watford full-back, becomes caretaker manager.