TOMORROW afternoon will certainly be a strange occasion for Mark Bower.
The former Guiseley manager will find himself away from the cut-and-thrust of match-day for the first time in a couple of decades, having represented the likes of Bradford City, York City and Luton Town in his playing days before moving into the dug-out with the Lions.
He will not be at Nethermoor for the National League home game with Bromley, having been dismissed on Sunday, and while it will be a somewhat alien feeling for the 36-year-old, he is confident that his spell out of football will not be a long one.
He is proud of his near three-year spell at the club, which incorporated a play-off final appearance, promotion glory and a spot of history and survival in the National League. His three campaigns in charge at Guiseley are ones that will rightfully go down in history.
Bower told the YEP: “It will be a bit strange not having to pick up training. It will also be strange because, since the age of 16, I have always been involved at a club as a player or in management.
“ I am sure I will miss it, but I have got a lot of things outside the game as well and when something comes up, it will have to be right for me.
“We will see what happens and I believe I will have something to offer in football.”
Despite his considerable achievements at Guiseley, it failed to afford him that precious commodity in football – time – after the Lions started the campaign with five successive losses.
Luck had turned against Bower, with his side losing two key matches against North Ferriby and Solihull Moors through unfortunate late events in cruel 3-2 reverses.
Yet even accounting for the black-and-white fact that Guiseley had lost their opening five games, there was a persuasive school of thought to suggest that he deserved time to turn things around.
In a division where most of their rivals have more financial clout, punching above their weight was becoming increasingly tough for Guiseley, also faced with competing with several National League North sides with bigger budgets in their quest to land targets.
While Bower was pragmatic enough to realise that the early-season statistics did not present a rosy picture, equally he feels that there were additional factors to consider.
He added: “We lost five games on the bounce and I am not daft; having been in the game a long time, you are asking for trouble.
“But with a reduced budget and a new team, I just hoped for a little bit longer.
“It is difficult with a small squad to try and keep the quality up.
“There were teams in Conference North who we couldn’t compete with in terms of players and it is tough in trying to recruit.
“But having said that, we certainly should have had more points than we have now, although they gave it everything they had.
“I accept things and I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me.
“I am very proud with how we left it. There is a good squad of players there.
“A couple of freak results just didn’t go our way in the past few weeks.
“I feel I have left a strong squad in place and believe the team is in a lot better place than it was three years ago. What happened at the end was not through a lack of effort or commitment.
“Football is just fine margins and I will dust myself down and have a bit of a break and see what comes up.”
In terms of his highlights, Bower can namecheck several.
At the top of the pile is the remarkable come-from-behind win over Chorley in May 2015 to secure Conference football after several years of trying, with the ‘great escape’ triumph over Torquay United at the end of last season not a million miles away either.
Bower added: “Chorley was probably the highlight because at the end of that season, we had some many injuries and disruptions and ten or 11 different centre-half pairings during the season and even in the final, our best player probably came off.
“To be 2-0 down at half-time and turn it around made me really proud of what we do.
“I have done a lot in football and that was hard to beat.
“In terms of last year, the Torquay game was more relief than achievement really in just managing to hold on.
“It’s about where you finish. Usain Bolt may not be leading after 90 metres, but he wins in the end.”