“When I first joined the club in 2013/14, instantly I saw Geoff’s passion and desire to succeed which definitely motivated me to want to help push the club in a forward direction.” Lee Lashenko on Manor Farm Chairman, Geoff Sellek.
Last Tuesday it was announced that our longstanding chairman, Geoff Sellek, had tendered his resignation as chairman of Bristol Manor Farm Football Club. The news came as a surprise to everyone connected to Manor Farm, with the club now preparing for life under new governance – with Geoff supporting the club from a different light, now as Director.
In our latest interview, we spoke to Manor Farm Manager Lee Lashenko about his first memories managing under Geoff’s stewardship and the awe-inspiring impressions he has left on our football club.
“In a way, I would describe mine and Geoff’s relationship like Father and Son,” Lashenko began. “When I first joined the club in 2013/14, instantly I saw Geoff’s passion and desire to succeed which definitely motivated me to want to help push the club in a forward direction.
“In our first season working together, we equalled the club’s record in the FA Cup by reaching the Second Qualifying Round – beating Oldland Abbotonians, Lymington, and Corsham. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it that one step further in the competition but I think it really showed Bristol Manor Farm’s intent,” Lashenko said.
In 2015-16, Lashenko’s Manor Farm continued their impressive cup runs – this time reaching the quarter-final of the FA Vase where the Farm faced eventual winners Morpeth Town FC. However, it was the leadup that Lashenko looks back on with fond memories.
“Our Vase cup run in 2016 is the best moments I’ve had in my managerial career. We overcame strong opposition including Hengrove, Lymington, Moneyfields – and of course, Sunderland RCA.
“At this level, there aren’t many moments when you are treated to ‘the glamourous’ side of Football, but when they come around you really have to make the most of them. When it was announced that we drew Sunderland RCA in the Fifth round proper, everyone connected to the club knew this was a big moment in our history.
“Myself, Geoff, the football club, and its supporters left the Creek at five and arrived at the hotel just before midnight. As for the match, it was a real footballing ‘classic’. We managed to win the game 2-3 in difficult conditions in front of a bumper home crowd (329), with a lot of Sunderland FC supporters in attendance. Our travelling supporters really helped push us over the line, including familiar faces such as Tony Parsons, Ashley Platten, Snowy, and Paul Stacey.
“I’ll never forget Geoff’s face when he walked into the changing room after the match. He’d hate me saying this, but I could see a tear in his eye. It was a truly special moment in the history of Bristol Manor Farm Football Club,” Lashenko recalled.
After narrowly missing out on promotion in 2016, and reaching the quarter-final of a national cup competition, Lashenko recalls his early conversations with Geoff about wanting to make the 2016/17 season one to remember.
“My first three seasons as manager was definitely a mixed bag. We reached the quarter-final of a major tournament at this level but missed out on promotion by a handful of points to Barnstable and Odd Down.
“I remember having conversations with Geoff about really giving the following season a ‘good go’. Well, we certainly did that,” Lashenko expressed.
“We finished the season as champions, winning the league at Hallen by 10 points. By earning promotion to the Southern League, it showed the intent and backing that Geoff gave me that season – without his support, I couldn’t have done it.”
As for the future of our Football Club, Lashenko believes that the time has come for us to move forward within our own identity – but with Sellek continuing to support the club from a different perspective.
“Geoff always has and always will be the living embodiment of our fantastic football club,” Lashenko said. “This certainly isn’t a goodbye story, as we can’t wait to share many more exciting moments with Geoff – but this time he can enjoy being a supporter of Bristol Manor Farm in his retirement.
“I can’t thank Geoff enough for his support during my time here as Manager, and I really hope that next season we can give him another season to remember.” Lashenko expressed.