WOKING boss Geoff Chapple has described the speculation linking him to the manager's job at Aldershot Town as "extremely flattering" as the race to occupy one of the most coveted positions in non-League football steps up a gear this week.
Chapple, who openly admits his love for the club he has supported since he was four years old, currently tops a long list of candidates for the job left vacant by George Borg's departure on Thursday evening.
Currently serving a nine-month term on a non-contract basis at Kingfield, Chapple's future as Cards chief hangs on an Extraordinary General Meeting at the club next Tuesday (12) where the Woking board decide whether to change the club's constitution in order to let in prospective new owner Chris Ingram.
Chapple still lives in Farnham and has always had a soft spot for the Rec. Indeed his name was being banded about just prior to Borg taking over the reins four years ago.
Described by some as non-League football's most successful manager after success in all three of non-League football's major trophies with Woking and Kingstonian, the larger-than-life character said: "It is very flattering because Aldershot is my club and everyone knows that. It's my father's fault, he took me when I was four years old and I've never looked back.
"I've had no contact with Karl Prentice, however, and I won't apply. I believe in loyalty and I will remain loyal to those who have been loyal to me.
"Aldershot is a massive club, possibly in the top half dozen in non-League football. Of course it is extremely flattering to be associated with managing your home town club, especially when I've always said that I would manage them one day. I will take my love of Aldershot to my grave.
"However, if the prospective new owners at Woking feel I have a job to do here then that is what will do."
Prentice, too, would not be drawn on the vacancy, simply saying: "We won't be rushing into anything. We have no-one immediately in mind so we will advertise the post, wait for the replies and see where we go from there. It's an open book.
"This is not a new experience for us. We know the protocol and it will be a nice challenge to have the job in deciding who gets one of the biggest jobs in non-League football."
Another obvious front runner is Chapple's former first team coach at Woking, Colin Lippiatt — the first to confirm that he has already applied for the post.
Lippiatt, who has also bossed Yeovil, was surprisingly sacked by the Cards last month and is currently out of work.
Speaking on Friday after the news of Borg's departure, he said: "I've been in non-League football for 24 years and have just been sacked for the first time. That takes a lot of getting over and I'm still in shock to be honest.
"I can say that I will almost certainly apply for the position, it is a massive job in non-League football. Without being big-headed, I believe that my CV would stand up to anyone else's."
Chapple's former No.2 at Kingstonian is also another strong contender. Ian McDonald, of course, has a proud 11-year association with Aldershot, and is still as popular as ever with fans and club members. He is also widely expected to apply for the position.
Since he lost his job at Kingstonian just before Chapple last April, Macca has been a prominent fixture at the Rec, happy to meet and greet his old friends in the directors box and on the terraces.
McDonald has actually taken over the reigns at Aldershot before, on a caretaker basis before Borg took over.
The one question mark against McDonald is his experience as a first team manager. During his time under Chapple at Kingstonian, Macca built up a great reputation of being a first class coach, but has never managed a club at this level.
He still lives in the town and is currently working as a southern area scout for Premiership side Middlesbrough.
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