Ian Chandler celebrates ten years as Whitley Bay manager

Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler after winning the FA Vase at Wembley in 2009.
Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler after winning the FA Vase at Wembley in 2009.

Saturday’s local derby against Ashington saw Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler celebrate ten years in the Hillheads hot seat.

And as is so often the case in local derbies, this was a hard fought game.

But the 1-0 victory, his 325th as manager, was a fitting way to mark the milestone that few football managers at any level of the game can hope to reach.

It was also appropriate that in the opposing dug out was Gary Middleton, now Ashington manager but a former team-mate and the man who captained Whitley to their first FA Vase victory in 2002.

When appointed back on January 4, 2004, Chandler had no managerial experience and was still playing regularly.

His links with Whitley Bay extended back to the late 1980s when he was a member of the side that played in front of BBC Match of the Day cameras when they beat Preston North End 2-0 in the FA Cup second round at Hillheads.

He later scored the winning goal when Bay first won the FA Vase in 2002, and with a goal tally of over 150 for the club he was a hugely popular appointment among the fans.

But no one could have predicted the success that he would bring in the years that followed.

During ten memorable years, the four highlights have been winning the Northern League championship in 2006-07 and the magnificent hat-trick of FA Vase victories at Wembley in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Added to those achievements are an FA Vase semi-final appearance in 2008, two Northumberland Senior Cup triumphs and among numerous personal accolades four times being named Northern League Manager of the Year.

Without doubt, he will go down in the history books as the greatest ever Bay manager and one more year in charge will also see him become the club’s longest serving manager of all time.

Few would count against him achieving more honours for Whitley Bay FC in the years ahead, and while it is an often over-used description, no one involved in non-league football could argue that Ian Chandler is a Whitley Bay legend.