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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 10:05 GMT
Crawley's battle to beat the odds
Crawley captain/manager Ben Judge - picture courtesy of Crawley Town FC
Judge is enjoying the challenge of co-managing the club

Crawley's longest-serving player Ben Judge admits he must be a glutton for punishment.

"Life would be a lot easier if I was somewhere else," he told BBC Sport. "I'd just be going into training and being a normal player."

Instead, the 29-year-old finds himself as co-caretaker-player-manager of the troubled Conference side, who began the season with a 10-point deduction as a punishment for going into administration in June.

The future of the club remains uncertain: a winding-up order, issued over unpaid taxes, has been adjourned until the beginning of December.

Judge, who joined Crawley in 2001 from Ryman League side Croydon, almost left in the summer.

"I decided enough was enough," he said. "I've got a young family and we weren't sure when we were going to be paid again, contracts were up in the air...

"But in the end I sat down with the manager John Hollins and I decided to take the risk and give it another season. I like the club, it's local for me, I've got a good relationship with the fans and I don't want to go anywhere else."

Judge was forced to question the wisdom of his decision when Hollins and his assistant Alan Lewer "parted company" with the club in October.

"The players were all shocked and disappointed," he said.

"When he left, had it not been for the 10-point penalty, we would have been 9th or 10th in the table. We were doing pretty well but obviously things were going on behind scenes that we didn't know about.

If we'd have panicked every time there was an emergency meeting, we'd never have slept

Ben Judge
"I had a great relationship with John and Alan and they were very good for the club. They kept us up last season and got us off to a good start this season. I have nothing but respect for them."

Skipper Judge, defender David Woozley and former Millwall and Fulham coach John Yems were given the responsibility of restoring morale - and despite everything, Crawley are holding their own in the league.

The Red Devils may be second from bottom in the league but were it not for the 10-point deduction, they would be sitting comfortably in mid-table.

"Being part of the management team has been interesting," said Judge.

"There is a lot of stress and if it affects my playing I'll think again but at the moment I'm playing OK.

"This last week has been pretty crazy with the Football League loan transfer window about to close. We've only got squad of about 13 so we've been trying desperately to get players in."

All the time, the threat of extinction hangs over the club, with a potentially crucial creditors' meeting set for 4 December, but Judge says the players have become immune to the pressure.

"If we'd have panicked every time there was an emergency meeting, we'd never have slept," he said.

"Something happens every week and we try to just get on with it.

"I'm sure things will work out. There are problems but the board are confident things will get sorted out and we can move on."

Providing the club's future is secured, Judge, who made his 250th appearance for Crawley on Saturday, has been promised a testimonial season.

He said: "It's a very good club and I really hope it gets back on its feet and we can move up the table and secure our place in the Conference next season which is ultimately our aim."

Manager Hollins departs Crawley
30 Oct 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley winding-up order deferred
15 Nov 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley takeover deal collapses
29 Sep 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley creditors back rescue bid
30 Aug 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley are ready to start season
10 Aug 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley Town facing player exodus
15 Jun 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley placed in administration
05 Jun 06 |  Crawley Town
Crawley name Hollins as new boss
23 Nov 05 |  Crawley Town


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