GRAHAM Allner admits “my heart ruled my head” when taking on the Worcester City job so soon after achieving legendary status at Kidderminster Harriers.

In a candid assessment of his 10-month stint in charge at St George’s Lane, one of the favourites of City’s 1978-79 Southern League championship-winning team conceded he should have thought twice before taking the hotseat in January 1999.

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During a glittering 15-year spell in charge at Aggborough, Harriers were transformed into a non-league powerhouse with Allner lifting the Conference title in 1994, one FA Trophy in three Wembley final appearances and overseeing a run to the fifth round of the FA Cup having dumped out Birmingham City and Preston North End.

That CV saw him installed at Worcester ahead of John Barton, a playing colleague in the 1978-79 title success and as it turned out the man who would replace him.

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George Rooney had been in charge at the start of the 1998-99 season with much expected from a boosted playing budget.

A hit-and-miss start and misfortune in an FA Cup first-round tie at home to Torquay United – then of the Football League – spelled the end of Rooney’s six-year reign.

Allner gradually began an overhaul of his squad, relying on trusted personnel from Aggborough including Paul ‘Ocker’ Davies who was drafted in as player-assistant manager.

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City enjoyed a steady second half of the season to finish seventh in the Southern League Premier Division – albeit just four points off second spot in a congested battle behind runaway champions Nuneaton Borough.

John Deakin and Kevin Willetts shifted across from Kidderminster in the summer with big names such as Andy Ellis (Woking) and Paul Carty (Hednesford) also lured to the Lane, making City favourites for the crown.

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However, an eight-match winless league run made for the club’s worst start to a Southern League season and embroiled them in a battle against the drop.

With nine points from 14 games, Allner asked to be released from duties and in came Barton to try to steer City away from the bottom four.

There was more turnover of players and despite solid runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, the spectre of the drop loomed large until the penultimate game of the season when a 4-4 draw at home to Dorchester Town ensured a finish above the dreaded bottom four.

City ended the season 15th, three points clear of a relegation zone filled by Grantham Town, Gloucester City, Rothwell Town and Bromsgrove.

“It was the right job at the wrong time,” said Allner.

“I always had that affinity for Worcester. Having played in those big games where we had massive crowds I could see the potential if we could become consistently successful, particularly if we could get into the Football League because the club could attract crowds to sustain that.

“From my playing time there it was always in my thoughts and when I left Kidderminster the job came up at virtually the same time by chance.

“My heart ruled my head, I should have taken time out having been at Kidderminster for 15 years.

“To be honest that was the poorest spell of my managerial career. After success at Leamington and Kidderminster it was really disappointing from my point of view and from that of the club.

“I did leave of my own accord because I did not feel like I could do the job they wanted me to. I took it on in good faith, I had a feeling for what we could do with it if we really got hold of it.

“I took over in the January and the back end of that season went reasonably well, we got a few decent results.

“If I am honest I started to bring in my own players and it did not work. They were good players, people I knew about and one or two that came from Kidderminster who had been very successful.

“That was on top of some good players that were already there but the way it panned out really got on top of me in the end. I was disappointed in myself more than anything and I thought it better to draw a line under it.

“John Barton came in, he was a big pal of mine and was always going to be better for that job at the time. That was the way it went.

“I got out of the way of management for a year or two, working with Steve Cotterill as a coach at Cheltenham Town."