Non-League Notebook

'I am not a racist', says Dagenham manager
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The Independent Football

Garry Hill has denied being a racist at the end of one of the most traumatic months in the manager's time in charge at the Conference side Dagenham & Redbridge.

His statement follows the allegation that Hill made a racist remark to the Telford player Fitzroy Simpson, and the subsequent decision by the defender Mark Smith and the striker Mark Stein to leave Dagenham. A third black player, Leon Braithwaite, initially said he also wanted to leave but later reversed his decision.

"Everybody who knows me in football knows that I am not a racist. I have never been a racist person throughout my career as a player or manager," Hill said.

"I have been very good friends with Paul Parker, the former England and Manchester United player, for many years and he would tell anyone that I am not a racist.

"In fact, I would not tolerate any form of racism at my club. I therefore categorically deny that I made any form of racist remark towards Fitzroy Simpson or any other person during or after the Telford match.

"I have worked with Mark Stein for two full seasons and we have not had a problem at all. There has not been a bad word between us and I was therefore very surprised to be told that he had stated that he had chosen to leave the club."

A former FA Cup hero will start out on the road to Wembley (or rather Cardiff) when the second-round qualifying takes place tomorrow. The Southampton Cup-winner Nick Holmes will be leading Salisbury City in a derby against Westbury United for a place in the penultimate qualifier for the competition.

Holmes - who is now Salisbury's manager - was, at 21, the youngest member of the 1976 Southampton side which tasted FA Cup glory with a 1-0 final victory over Manchester United. He was also part of the side that won promotion to the old First Division in 1978, and a year later he played in another Wembley final, scoring when the Saints lost 3-2 to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup.

There was good news for the Conference side Chester City this week when the striker Daryl Clare, last season's top scorer, found the net in a 4-0 reserves victory over Ossett Town, his first game back after undergoing knee surgery.