|Full name||Thomas Widdrington|
|Date of birth||1 October 1971|
|Place of birth||Newcastle upon Tyne, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Eastbourne Borough (manager)|
|Wallsend Boys Club|
|1991||→ Wigan Athletic (loan)||6||(0)|
|2011–2012||Hemel Hempstead Town|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Thomas "Tommy" Widdrington (born 1 October 1971) is an English former footballer, turned football manager, who is the manager of Conference South side Eastbourne Borough. A midfielder, he racked up 372 appearances in the Football League in a 15-year career, before spending five years in non-league football.
His career began at Southampton in 1990, where he spent the first six years of his career. In 1996 he moved to Grimsby Town, helping the "Mariners" to the Football League Trophy trophy and promotion out of the Second Division in 1998. The next year he moved on to Port Vale for a two-year spell. Voted the club's Player of the Year in 2000, he captained the "Valiants" to the Football League Trophy in 2001. Later in the year he was transferred to Hartlepool United, helping the club to win promotion out of League Two in 2002–03, before he moved on to Macclesfield Town. In 2005 his career in the Football League ended back at Port Vale. He then spent 2005 to 2010 at non-league Salisbury City. As a player he enjoyed promotion four times with three different clubs, and lifted the Football League Trophy twice.
Player-manager at Salisbury City for the 2009–10 season, he returned to the Football League at Southend United, as assistant manager but left the position in December 2010. He was appointed Hemel Hempstead Town manager in October 2011, before he was put it charge at Eastbourne Borough in February 2012.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Widdrington started his career as a Southampton trainee and signed a professional contract with the First Division club in May 1990. He enjoyed a short loan spell at Third Division Wigan Athletic at the start of the 1991–92 season. He made his "Saints" debut at Everton on 1 March 1992.
A tough, no-nonsense midfield player, he survived some frantic managerial changes to carve out a respectable Premier League career over a four-year period for Southampton. He was combative and energetic, comfortable in most areas of the pitch. However he didn't become a regular player until the 1994–95 season, when he made 28 league appearances without scoring as the "Saints" finished tenth in the league. He made a further 21 appearances in the 1995–96 season, scoring twice, as the "Saints" narrowly avoided relegation, but still reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
He was not far short of making 100 appearances in total when, in July 1996, Grimsby Town came in with an offer of £300,000 – as "Saints" had yet another new manager in Graeme Souness. Widdrington decided to accept their terms and headed to Blundell Park.
Grimbsy were a struggling First Division side, and suffered relegation at the end of the 1996–97 campaign, though Widdrington did score a memorable goal past Southend United on the last day of the season. They enjoyed an immediate return in 1997–98 after winning the play-off Final against Northampton Town 1–0. However injury meant that he missed out on the Football League Trophy Final victory over Bournemouth at Wembley. Widdrington played his last game for the "Mariners" towards the end of the 1998–99 season, when he was loaned out to Port Vale for the final three months of the season.
At the end of the 1998–99 season Port Vale signed Widdrington (now out of contract, and transfer–listed) on a free transfer. He was sent off on the final day of the 1998–99 season, and he returned to action in 1999–2000 by getting sent off in the opening minute of a 4–2 defeat at Birmingham City. After that though, Widdrington brushed up his act and impressed so much that supporters voted him Player of the Year for the 1999–2000 season, as the "Valiants" suffered relegation into the Second Division.
Manager Brian Horton appointed Widdrington as club-captain for the 2000–01 season. He played every game of the club's Football League Trophy run, but played no part in the final. He made just over 80 appearances at Vale Park, before being released at the end of the 2000–01 season.
Hartlepool, Macclesfield & Port Vale again
Linked with Colchester United, Widdrington instead moved north to join up with Hartlepool United. He was a regular for the club and earned promotion to the Second Division with the club in the 2002–03 season, before he was released upon its conclusion.
In July 2003 he was targeted by Oxford United, but instead Widdrington made his next port of call at Macclesfield Town, managed by former boss Brian Horton. He settled in quickly and became an indispensable player for the Third Division strugglers, acting as their captain for the 2004–05 season. In January 2005, Horton put him on the transfer list, and Widdrington then decided to call it a day at Macclesfield and in a twist, joined former club Port Vale on a non-contract basis. He played on his 92nd Football League ground (Stockport County's) three games prior to joining Salisbury.
He joined Salisbury City in February 2005. His capture from Port Vale was an integral part of the club's development under manager Nick Holmes, helping the club to the highest point in its history. Over time his role became that of a coach, rather than a player.
On 8 September 2007 Widdrington was involved in a touchline incident with Rushden & Diamonds boss Garry Hill. The pair began arguing and Hill headbutted Widdrington, breaking his nose. Both men received fines from their clubs and Hill was also given a ten match touchline ban and a hefty fine of £1,500. Later that year Widdrington was suspended by the club pending an 'internal disciplinary inquiry', but was soon allowed to return to work, with a statement being released saying: "No charges have been brought against Tommy and everyone at the club looks forward to working with him towards continued success." The following year Rushden banned him from Nene Park in the return fixture, despite no authorisation from The Football Association for the action.
He took over as manager in July 2009 after Nick Holmes took the role of general manager. He won the Conference National Manager of the Month award in April 2010. However he left the club after they were expelled from the Conference National due to them entering administration.
Southend United & Hemel Hempstead Town
In July 2010, Widdrington was named assistant to new Southend United manager Paul Sturrock. His employment was terminated on 15 December 2010 as Sturrock needed "a fresh impetus". The club promoted from within in appointing Graham Coughlan as his replacement.
In October 2011, Widdrington was appointed as manager of struggling Southern League side Hemel Hempstead Town. His stay was short, as he found employment at a club in a higher league mid-way throughout the season.
In February 2012, Widdrington was appointed as manager of Eastbourne Borough, taking over from long-serving manager Garry Wilson, with the remit of keeping the club in the Conference South. He signed both Ronnie Bull and Stuart Anderson from Salisbury, and both Marvin Hamilton and Ellis Remy from Hemel Hampstead, also bringing in goalkeeper Mitch Walker on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion. They ended the 2011–12 season two places and two points above the drop zone, and went on to finish safely in 12th spot in 2012–13. After an unbeaten start to the 2013–14 season, Widdrington was named as the Conference South Manager of the Month for August. The "Sports" ended the 2013–14 campaign in tenth place.
Widdrington celebrated his goal for Port Vale against Brentford on 24 October 2000 with five bottles of Budweiser, and subsequently crashed his BMW into a set of traffic lights in Hanley early the following morning. He was charged with refusing to take part in police drink-driving tests and entered a Guilty plea. He was banned from driving for 12 months and given a £500 fine.
- Southern Football League Premier Division winner: 2005–06
- Conference South play-off winner: 2007
- Conference National Manager of the Month: April 2010
- Conference South Manager of the Month: August 2013, August 2014
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- Hemel Hempstead Town FC Announce New Manager Mark Steiner pitchero.com (5 October 2011)
- "Widdrington: I want to be part of another successful era with Eastbourne Borough". Eastbourne Herald. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- "Relegation battle holds no fear for Widdrington". Eastbourne Herald. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "Conference Monthly Awards". herefordunited.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Peskett, Lee. "Widdrington Manager Of The Month For August". ebfc.co.uk. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
- "Soccer star banned for drink-drive accident.". Birmingham Post. 8 December 2000. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "Port Vale captain charged". Birmingham Post. 28 October 2000. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "Footballer in court". Coventry Telegraph. 10 November 2000. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "Kai Widdrington's twirls put his footie dad in a bit of a spin". The Sun. 22 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.