The neutral spectator standing on the touchline would have been forgiven for not believing that Russell Penticost was the manager of a football team. He didn't fit the traditional picture. He didn't shout or swear at his players or the referee. He didn't exude an overtly sporting appearance but Russell was a real football manager on the inside.
He was a football man through and through. He played the game to a good standard from his teenage days and latterly coached and managed with equal facility. He was widely known and respected in Sussex football circles but was a relative newcomer to Ifield Edwards at least in the home changing room.
It was only in June that he joined the Division Three club that had suffered a set back with one of the mass defections following a former manager that are all too prevalent at this level of the game. He didn't promise overnight success but he was certain that it would come within three seasons. With the playing side depleted he would have to make do with those that were left. He quickly recognised the talent and the potential that was available to him but more importantly those players soon realised that despite the absence of bluster and dogmatism this man knew what he was talking about and all they needed to do was listen and follow his guidance.
There was no suggestion of the Promised Land in a welter of big victories but the players and the backroom staff soon realised things were heading in the right direction and the long awaited rise to senior football had again become a realistic target. Russells first success had been to win the changing room and Ifield Edwards was united in all but name. He hadn't made bold promises or set adventurous targets but within four months the ball was rolling. He was very good at what he tried to do in football but would have been the last man to tell you about it.
Being born in 1949 made Russell just the right age to take inspiration from Englands victory in the 1966 World Cup. He soon made his sharp striking skills well known around the county. Horsham, his home town club, Worthing and APV Athletic were among those to benefit from his talents in his playing days and after he hung up his boots and took on the tasks of management he helped Horsham YMCA, Forest and Storrington to better times and they shared no little success on the field of play.
He will be sadly missed not just by his family and many, many friends in the game but also by the playing squad his tragic early passing has deprived of his leadership, wisdom and crisp, dry humour in the changing room.
Ifield Edwards FC