Dale Belford delighted to pick up Fair Play Award as a departing gift from Rugby Town - The Rugby Observer
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12th Aug, 2022

Dale Belford delighted to pick up Fair Play Award as a departing gift from Rugby Town

Steve Carpenter 26th May, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

RUGBY Town manager Dale Belford capped off a successful season by picking up the PFA Fair Play Award at the The Non-League Paper’s National Game Awards.

Belford was at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday (May 18) for the ceremony where he collected the award.

The 48-year-old took over as manager ten games into the season when Rugby were in relegation trouble and managed to turn their fortunes around, leading them to a comfortable ninth-place finish in the Evo-Stick Division One South. Belford has now left the club with James Jepson taking over at the start of next season.

Each Non-League side accumulates points for cautions and dismissals related to dissent, violent conduct or foul and abusive language. Rugby finished the season as one of six clubs to finish with zero points, and managed to have fewer yellow and red cards over the course of the season.

Speaking after accepting the prize, Belford said: “I’m delighted to win the award and fair play is a big, prestigious thing in football now.

“It is something we’ve had to work on – it doesn’t come easy because it is a competitive game. A lot of things go on over 90 minutes and it has been a process where we’ve had to install it over a period of time. It can be done, it hasn’t been easy but the lads have been fantastic and bought into what we want to do.

“We’ve proved you can be disciplined and competitive at the same time and win plenty of games which we have done this season.

“From a personal point of view I’m delighted with it. I did have issues with the FA and being brought up in front of the FA two or three times while I was at Tamworth.”

Such was Belford’s success at Rugby that they were even in contention for a play-off place until fading in the final few weeks of the season.

With the goal of simply remaining in the division upon joining as manager, he more than exceeded expectations and claims he leaves the club on good terms.

“We took over the club after ten games with a relegation battle on our hands,” added Belford.

“It was a difficult start however we slowly but surely got ourselves out of the relegation battle and eventually fell just short of the play-offs.

“The remit when we took the job was to stay up which we did quite successfully. In the end it was job done, I left the club amicably and the chairman thanked me for my services.

“So we had a really good season after coming in under difficult circumstances which was enjoyable.

“Football is in my blood. It’s something I love doing and enjoy so hopefully there will be somebody out there who will give me an opportunity to stay in management.”

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