WHITBY Town have released midfielder Michael Tait (24), with player-manager Darren Williams saying the summer signing from Blyth Spartans was “an expense we didn’t need”, following a string of costly recent postponements.
Tait, the son of ex-Hartlepool United star Mick, had struggled to pin down a first-team spot since his arrival from the Northumberland club.
His last start was the 2-1 home defeat to Nantwich Town on 13 October, some 17 matches ago.
This past weekend, Tait had an angry Twitter exchange with Williams and assistant David Campbell. The messages have since been deleted.
Williams announced the former Darlington player’s departure on Wednesday, telling the Whitby Gazette: “Michael Tait has left the club.
“We wish him our best.
“From our point of view, it was probably an expense we didn’t need, with games being called off as of late.
“I had been speaking to him for several weeks.
“I did find him two clubs to speak to, whether he’s got other ideas, to go somewhere else, I don’t know.
“We sat down with him, we were honest and said we didn’t see him breaking into the squad, because the lads in front of him are playing very well, at the moment.”
Williams is unsure whether Tait will be replaced at this moment in time, but with 18 games to fit into 10 weeks, including seven midweek matches, the manager’s hand could be forced.
The latest postponement came at Nantwich, last Saturday, with the Cheshire club calling off the game after Whitby’s club coach had set off and was already on the outskirts of Pickering.
Williams added: “I was very surprised, normally the night before a game you get the heads up from a team, if they’re planning a pitch inspection for the morning.
“But there was no contact from Nantwich, the bus had left - I was literally getting in the car.”
The ex-Sunderland star was left frustrated and unable to make alternative arrangements.
“I would’ve liked to, but you’ve done all your preparations, you’re scrambling round to see if we can get a training session.
“It’s quite difficult at that time of day to try and arrange things, as pitches are booked up for other things, it was very disappointing.
“Had we been given a little heads up, the night before, you can arrange to do something the next day, ie training, or possibly going to watch somebody, but it’s very difficult to do that on the back of a very late call in the morning.”
He’s also keen to get supporters back to the Turnbull Ground, with Town on the back of seven unbeaten league games.
“We have a squad of seventeen”, he said.
“We’re not getting much revenue coming in, so any home games we get, it would be fantastic to get more fans there.
“I put a little appeal out myself and got a bit of feedback from Sunderland fans, for this weekend, so fingers crossed that the game’s going to be on.
“Hopefully we can drag a few more people in, as it’s FA Cup weekend, so a few teams won’t have games.
“It’d be nice for them to come down and see, what I think, is a very good league [and] two of the three best sides.”
Sixth-placed Witton Albion, who defeated Town 4-2 in September, visit the Turnbull Ground on Saturday (16 Feb) and Williams is unconcerned about the Blues’ run of just three wins from 14 clashes with the North West outfit.
“Records like that are not nice to have.
“You want to obviously change it and make it more of an advantage for us, if anything.
“We want to look back and say we played them at home and beat them.
“They’re a decent team, they have very good backing, financially.
“It’ll be an interesting game - when we played Witton, we were playing well, but we weren’t convincing in front of goal and it was quite an open game down there.
”We’ve changed quite a bit since then.”
Based in Northwich, Albion are 11 points ahead of the Seasiders, having played two more matches.
They lost out 4-2 themselves at the weekend, to leaders North Ferriby United.
Former centre-half Brian Pritchard, who made more than 700 appearances in a Witton shirt, was appointed manager last season and won promotion at the first attempt, via the Division One North play-offs.
Dennis Violett and Ray Wallace’s former side quickly established themselves at the business end of the NPL Premier, but slipped out of the top-five on Tuesday, following FC United’s 4-2 success at Frickley Athletic. Albion have also yet to earn a league victory in 2013, after five winless outings.
Kick-off at the Turnbull Ground is 3pm with admission set at £9 adults, £5 concessions, £2 under 18s and under 16s get in free, when accompanied by a paying adult.