Damian Hilton exit catches Norwich United by surprise

FA Cup match, Norwich United v Wisbech Town. Norwich United manager Damian Hilton. Photo: Bill Smith

FA Cup match, Norwich United v Wisbech Town. Norwich United manager Damian Hilton. Photo: Bill Smith

Norwich United chairman John Hilditch admitted Damian Hilton's decision to leave the Planters and take over at Wroxham had caught him by surprise.

With United flying high at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division and apparently on course for promotion, Hilton's decision to succeed Stewart Larter at Wroxham has left Plantation Park officials puzzled.

Hilton joins the Yachtsmen in the midst of a relgation battle in the Ryman League Division One North, one step above Norwich.

'We were surprised – when you think we are top of the league and the players we've got it has really surprised us all,' admitted Hilditch, who confirmed the club's intention to accept promotion should they secure the title this season. 'He said he had an affinity to Wroxham and of course he has managed there before.

'His mind was made up – it's a rather odd situation. It just doesn't make sense to me.'

Hilton's assistant at Norwich, Jon Edridge, has agreed to take the reins with the Planters, who don't expect any of their star players to follow Hilton to Trafford Park.

'That won't happen - we are on a high and I can't imagine people moving on from the position that we're in,' insisted Hilditch when asked about the prospect of players leaving as a result of Hilton's defection.

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'The lads are surprised, as we all are, but obviously we move on.

'As far as our priorities are concerned they haven't changed – we want to win the league and go for promotion.'

Hilton will take charge of Wroxham's home clash against Thamesmead tomorrow alongside his new assistant Gavin Lemmon.

Hilton faces a mammoth task is steering the Yachtsmen clear of the relegation zone with the Yachtsmen without a win in the league since October.

However, his long association as a player and manager with Wroxham was too big a draw.

'Wroxham is a club very close to my heart and I have had many successful years as both a player and a manager before.

'The short-term task is very difficult as I will be looking to retain our status in the Ryman League but in the long-term, it has a massive potential and something I am really looking forward to. There is a great infrastructure at the club as are the people behind the scenes.'