Football: Non-League notebook: James savours his Shrimps

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The Independent Online
SOUTHPORT, the GM Vauxhall Conference leaders, face a short but tricky trip to their Lancashire rivals, Morecambe, tomorrow to contest a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.

Morecambe's current form in the Northern Premier League earned the February manager of the month award for the man who has been in charge at Christie Park for less than two months: Leighton James, the former Burnley, Derby and Wales winger. Prior to moving to the 'Shrimps', as Morecambe are known, James had been manager of another NPL club, Gainsborough Trinity, for four months.

Before that, James had been out of the game for 18 months, following a three-year spell as a coach at Bradford City. 'I'd had enough of football, I wasn't bothered if I watched a match on a Saturday or not,' he said yesterday. 'I didn't think I'd ever get like that, but it happens.'

James became caretaker-manager at Valley Parade, but did not feel that he was given time to prove himself. 'I felt as though I'd been kicked in the teeth - it still hurts,' he said. After one season off and a summer playing cricket, the enthusiasm returned, though, and he has arrived at Morecambe via Gainsborough.

'I left Gainsborough not for more money - I'm earning less here - but because Morecambe is my area and I have an affinity with the club. I played here many times when I was at Turf Moor,' added James, who lives and works (as a sales executive in the motor trade) in Burnley.

James has signed Jimmy Harvey, the former Tranmere and Hereford midfielder, who combines playing with assistant-manager duties. 'Apart from him, the squad are all good non-League lads,' James said. 'Saturday's game will show me if they're good enough to compete with the top teams in the Conference. We've beaten Northwich and Slough, now we're playing the best - the league table doesn't lie.'

Elsewhere in the Trophy, Sutton United, who beat Bath City 6-1 in the last round, entertain Dover, while last season's losing finalists, Runcorn, are at home to Halifax. There are three North-east sides in the last 16: Bishop Auckland and Gateshead, at home to Enfield and Merthyr respectively, and Billingham Synthonia, who travel to Macclesfield.