Gretna fairytale’s end inevitable

MICK Wadsworth’s time as Gretna’s director of football was an unhappy one, but it had more to do with the Borderers’ over-stretching themselves than the office he held, writes STUART RAYNER.

MICK Wadsworth’s time as Gretna’s director of football was an unhappy one, but it had more to do with the Borderers’ over-stretching themselves than the office he held, writes STUART RAYNER.

Appropriately enough for a club located in a town famous for marrying eloping couples, Gretna’s was perhaps the most romantic story in British football when Wadsworth joined in the summer of 2006.

Bankrolled by eccentric Sunderland-born Brooks Mileson, Gretna had gone from the English non-leagues to the Scottish First Division.

In his first season they reached the Scottish Cup final – and with it the Uefa Cup – and won yet another promotion.

But that was when they hit the glass ceiling, unable to compete in the Scottish Premier League with a tiny fanbase and a ground so small they had to groundshare with Motherwell, 76 miles away.

Add in the fact that Mileson, a chain smoker who suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, suffered a brain infection in February 2008 and died nine months later, and it was clear the fairytale was heading for an unhappy ending.

Having comfortably finished bottom of the SPL, Gretna folded in the summer of 2008.

“Gretna was really difficult because the money had run away,” said Wadsworth, now reunited with his Gretna head coach Davie Irons at ambitious Northern League club Celtic Nation.

“Brooks had put so much money into the club my job was really to try and rationalise the whole club and put it on a course that went towards being able to wipe its face. In all honesty that was never going to be the case.

“There were so many expectations made because of Brooks’ kindness.

“As much as I enjoyed it, it was almost blowing in the wind, and once Brooks got ill there was only one outcome unfortunately.”

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