Winchester City manager Ian Saunders has enlisted an old friend and experienced football head to take charge of first team affairs in the EVO-STIK League Southern while he is away serving his country.
The Citizens boss – an Army warrant officer – has asked former Gosport Borough number two Mick Catlin to take charge of his side’s next three outings in EVO-STIK League Southern Division One South & West after being called away on military duty at short notice.
Catlin takes the helm for the first time on Saturday at North Leigh, at Mangotsfield United next Tuesday night and then at home to second-placed Evesham on Saturday week.
The key fixtures could decide whether the eight-placed Citizens make the play-offs but Saunders believes his side could not be in more capable hands while he is away after working with Catlin at Brockenhurst, Fleet Town and Chichester over the years.
During his nine-year stint at Gosport as number two to Alex Pike, Catlin also helped steer Borough from the Wessex League to National League South and their fairytale 2013-14 FA Trophy final appearance at Wembley.
Saunders, who took over in the summer after leaving Petersfield Town, told the Daily Echo on Thursday: “Mick’s been gracious enough to come in for the two weeks I’m away and it works for us to have someone of that calibre step in. Mick being here is not pushing my number two, Jason Hampson, out of the way. The rest of the management team are over the moon that he’s coming in to do a job for me.”
He added: “Mick and I briefly ran Brockenhurst together and I was his captain and then assistant at Fleet. We were also at Chichester together with Mick as manager and me as player-coach. He’s one of my best mates in football.”
Catlin is doing his homework ahead of his temporary appointment and is also being backed by Citizens director of football Dave Malone.
Catlin was at the Denplan City Ground last Saturday to see Winchester’s 3-0 victory over Wantage and Malone said: “Mick’s a top man, very experienced and good with the players. I’m away as well for two of the next three games, which isn’t great, but hopefully we’ve got the ideal man to fill the void.”
He added: “Mick’s a really nice guy and I’m sure he’ll get the respect of the players. He already knows quite a few of them.”