By Craig MacKenzie
The relationship between Billy Rae and Frankston Pines ended on a sour note last Tuesday night.
Rae was removed from the senior coaching role and replaced by his assistant Paul Williams.
The club also elevated goalkeeping coach Lee Davies to become Williams’ assistant and reserves team coach.
Richard Permal and Jack Thompson had been in charge of the reserves but were told that their services no longer were needed.
The club offered Rae the reserves coaching job which he rejected.
Rae was on shaky ground before Tuesday’s upheaval as the club had already sounded out Mornington assistant Dale White and Bentleigh Greens under-20s coach Patrick Thompson without success.
“I was called in on Monday night to ask what was going on after Saturday’s loss to Seaford and I explained that we were getting players in from the fourth and fifth divisions and trying to get them to do well in second division,” said Rae.
“At the moment these players are inconsistent from minute to minute not just from one half to the other half or from one week to the next. That’s what happens with lesser quality players.
“On top of that I was told we would be getting these Mauritian internationals and other players and we’d only ended up with one of them (Cedric Permal).”
When Rae took over from Danny Verdun at the end of the 2015 season he had to rebuild both the senior and reserves squads after a mass player exodus.
He faced a similar exodus before the start of the current season when the club’s future was clouded and it had struggled to form a committee.
Rae was the pivotal character in a coaching succession plan that was to only last two years and he was steadfast in his resolve to uphold his side of that agreement going as far as to shun overtures from other clubs at the end of last season.
“At the end of this year I was walking away whether we were on the bottom, in the middle or on top of the league and I had agreed to mentor Paul over that two-year period,” he said.
Rae worked hard at getting both Williams and Davies to the club as his support staff and was supportive of Williams having a more hands-on role than that usually given to assistants.
Their relationship worked well but by the end of Tuesday’s training session it was in tatters.
A select group of senior players had been canvassed about the coaching set-up and the committee claimed that there was confusion among the playing group as to who was in charge, a claim Rae vigorously rebuked.
“It had been explained to the players all along that I was giving Paul leeway to do things and they all knew I was leaving at the end of the year so I told the committee that any idea that there was confusion among the players was bullshit,” said Rae.
At training on Tuesday first Williams then Davies were called in to front the committee and when those meetings ended Rae was called in.
That was when he was confronted with the decision to bring forward the timing of the succession plan and was offered the reserves job.
Rae shook hands with the committee, wished them and the club well, left the meeting and spoke briefly to Williams and Davies then drove home.
“There have been a number of occasions over the years when I have been asked to take over as coach and I have said ‘no, you already have a coach’ and that is how I always have conducted myself.
“The only thing I have to complain about is how this was done and I am very disappointed with Paul and Lee because I went out of my way to get both of them to the club.
“I know that this is part of the game but it’s not a nice part.
“I started training in October 1970 with Hakoah when I first arrived here (from Scotland) and I’ve gone from there to now and basically done nothing but soccer for all these years so I count myself very, very fortunate to have had such longevity in the game.”