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Jomar Wilkinson signs on as new Somerset Trojans coach

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Jomar Wilkinson prepares his Southampton Rangers players for extra time in a Friendship Trophy preliminary round match against Somerset Eagles on November 29, 2020. Cup holders Rangers won the exciting tie 4-3, in what would be their last match of the season because of the pandemic, and also Wilkinson's last as coach as he now gets set to coach Somerset Trojans. (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Jomar Wilkinson has been appointed the new coach of Somerset Trojans, after recently quitting his post at Southampton Rangers.

Somerset, with about four months before the start of the new season, moved quickly to find a new coach, with Wilkinson hand-picked by the man whom he will replace, Dennis Brown. Wilkinson signed a three-year contract on Friday with president Vashun Blanchette informing club members of the appointment on the weekend.

Jomar Wilkinson, centre, the new coach of Somerset Trojans, stands behind the club flag with Danvers Seymour Jr, the youth technical director, left, and technical director, Dennis Brown after his appointment

Brown is standing down from day to day coaching for health reasons but will remain as technical director, overseeing a talented group of coaches which includes his nephew Danvers Seymour Jr, who took over the senior team from him last season, as well as Larry Smith and Mark Trott who assisted Seymour last season.

Wilkinson was on Brown’s shortlist of possible candidates, having proven himself as a top coach by leading Dandy Town to league and cup success, including seventh and eighth league title in 2013-14 and 2015-16.

“In the first season I got back we compiled a coaching staff which consisted of myself, Danvers Jr and Mark Trott,” Brown explained. “Then last year we added to that Larry Smith, when I found out I wasn’t able to coach last season.

“We have a very experienced coaching staff and what we did, once they cancelled the league, is we met in a Zoom meeting and discussed possible candidates to take over from me as the head coach, although I will remain as the technical director.

“I wanted someone to take over who can basically take us to another level. The first year was to make sure we stayed in the Premier Division and last year we made some strides with Danvers as coach and now we’re looking for a coach to come in who has a winning mentality.

“The coach that everybody had on their list was Jomar Wilkinson, so we had a couple of meetings with Jomar – we met one other coach as well – but the general consensus was that Jomar can be the one to take us to where we need to go.”

Wilkinson had a talented crop of players when he was coach of Dandy Town, leading them to an eighth league title in 2015-16 before losing his job in December of that same year, 2016, when Town found themselves in the relegation zone halfway through the next season.

Wilkinson bounced back with a stint as assistant coach of Wolves for the remainder of the season before being appointed as coach of First Division side Southampton Rangers in June 2017. He guided them to the Shield title and the FA Cup final as the team finished unbeaten in the league in his first season though they still missed out on promotion.

Promotion came in the second season and Rangers also won the Friendship Trophy in 2019-20 in their first season back up. It is that record that convinced Somerset to pursue Wilkinson’s signature.

“We have an excellent array of young players in Somerset and we feel that Jomar, with his winning mentality, can take us to another level,” Brown said. “That’s basically what we’re looking for.”

Rangers almost had a second straight unbeaten league season in 2018-19, though they did win promotion at the second attempt under Wilkinson. Their only blemish in the league came in their penultimate match when bottom team Vasco handed them their first loss in almost two season, a 3-2 home loss which denied them the First Division title. They did clinch promotion the following weekend with a 1-0 win over Flanagan’s Onions.

Brown made a move after learning earlier this year that Wilkinson’s future at Rangers was uncertain.

“He wasn’t really sure what he was going to do at Rangers, so in all due respect what we did was talk about if he wanted to have a conversation,” Brown revealed.

“If he was staying at Rangers, fine, but we didn’t really pry him away from Rangers. We just said ’if you decide you need a new challenge, we’re here for you’.

“One thing I told him is Somerset has a huge legacy over the years, and this could possibly be his biggest challenge. Although the team hasn’t reached the heights of the Triple Crown [1967-68, 1968-69 and 1969-70] or the Silver City days, the expectations of the spectators is still great and this is going to be one of his biggest challenges. I know he will meet that challenge.”

Brown added: “I definitely hand-picked him. Jomar is someone who I watched coming through the coaching ranks and he was very successful at Dandy Town. He was also successful for a short stint at Rangers.

“He was a serial winner with Dandy Town, won the FA a couple of times [2013-14 and 2014-15] and the league a couple of times [2013-14 and 2015-16]. Even at Rangers he won promotion and when they came up he won the Friendship and the Charity Cup last year.

“He has a winning mentality, plus his mother’s family is from Somerset He’s coming back home!”

Blanchette is also pleased with the appointment of Wilkinson. “Brown and the football committee spearheaded the efforts to identify suitable candidates for the role,” he said.

“The recommendation was Jomar and that was supported by the executive and management committee. We’re obviously excited to have Jomar, he comes with a reputation of bringing success.

“He’s won trophies at every club he’s been involved in and his teams are known to play an exciting brand of football.

“This two things are synonymous with our goals at Somerset, wanting to play good football and be successful. It’s obviously an exciting appointment and we’ll give him the support he needs to make the team as competitive as possible.”

The president added: “When we first brought Dennis back the intention was always for him to lead the team for a season or two and then transition to focus more on the technical director’s role, and we would go and get another person to lead the senior team.

“Obviously last year he had health issues which led to Seymour jumping in to lead the senior team last season. We’re very grateful to him for filling in when Brown was dealing with his health challenges.

“He now goes back to focusing on the junior programme and his role as youth technical director and being more hands on with the youth so that we have that continuity of players transitioning into the first team.”

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Published May 24, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 25, 2021 at 8:02 am)

Jomar Wilkinson signs on as new Somerset Trojans coach

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