Released Monday 4th December 2005

Rocester’s two main strikers Lee Bagley and Tommy Smith have both left the club after not turning up for the recent League Cup game at Leamington.

Manager Michael Rowe has remained tight-lipped for a week as he waited for the players to apologise or come and explain their actions, however neither player has approached him directly - leaving him with little choice other than to rule them out of his plans.

In an amazing twist, it seems the two players were hoping to continue playing for the reserve team in the Staffordshire Senior league. But Rowe, with the full backing of the club’s directors and officials, is not prepared to allow them back at all.

Speaking openly to RocesterFC.com, The Boss explained his thoughts on the two players concerned and the events leading up to the split:

“We've had problems scoring goals all season, but I felt we could work with Lee Bagley and Tommy Smith up front and bring in an experienced player or two to help them progress.”

“Leroy May and Darren Alexander were both brought in but for different reasons didn’t work out, and we were on the verge of signing former West Brom forward Bob Taylor from Tamworth on a loan deal until he broke a bone in his foot. But we were happy to continue working with Bagley and Smith as a pair, and on getting the ball forward in a way that suited them.”

“I really thought we were getting somewhere, I believed both players had the potential to do well for Rocester for several years to come. We had a good talk at the reserve match on the Wednesday before we played Leamington, and on the Thursday training was good and competitive, there was a good spirit and I had no idea anything was wrong. Then out of the blue on Friday night I got a text from Smith saying he wasn’t confident, he didn’t think he was good enough and didn’t want to play for Rocester anymore.”

“My first thoughts were that it was a wind-up, but I phoned to speak to him and was told he was out with Lee Bagley. I phoned Bagley and he said he didn’t know where Smith was, but everything was fine for Saturday as far as he was concerned.”

“Then on Saturday morning we were left in the lurch when neither of them turned up, meaning we had to change all our plans for the match and the team was then up against it on a day when we were playing probably the best side in the league.”

“The players showed a great attitude on the day and deserved better than a 4-1 defeat. Even though Leamington are an extremely good side I felt the score flattered them a little.”

“Bagley and Smith let all of the other players down as well as me, and I don’t want them around the club at all. They both seem more interested in going out on a Friday night and playing Sunday League football rather than trying to play at a decent level on a Saturday, so they can concentrate on that now.”