Recently appointed Northwood manager at Step 4 in his first managerial position. I spoke to him about his footballing career and what lies ahead for him and the club.
What made you want to become a first-team manager? You had been an assistant for the last 7 years?
I’ve always been a leader whether that was captaining teams I’ve played for, within my work career so have always had an ambition to become a first team manager at some point.
As you say I’ve been an assistant manager for a while and that’s been a brilliant learning curve for me. Bobby Wilkinson and I had some great success and I learnt plenty from him and was able at the same time to think about how I would do things when the opportunity presented itself. Having left Wealdstone in the summer now felt like the right time and when the job at Northwood came up I felt it would be a great place to go in and start my journey.
What made you want to become a coach/manager after finishing your playing career?
I simply love the game. I probably stopped playing earlier than I should have due to having a young family and taking time out to focus on my day job and build a career there. After a year out after finishing I went and did some coaching badges and a friend of mine got me to come in and help with the youngsters at Reading FC. I really enjoyed seeing players improve and loved putting on sessions so got the bug for it. To get back into non-league and the buzz of the dressing room was something I had missed and once I started back at Thatcham I never looked back.
What are your ambitions as a manager?
I guess it would be to see how far I can go. I have a belief that if you’re improving at whatever it is you do then you’re doing alright. My aim is to keep learning and moving forward and seeing where I end up. Of course managing as high up as I can is an aspiration but I believe that will take care of itself if I’m willing to put in the work, learn, develop and demonstrate that I can do a good job.
Who is the best player you have worked with?
Difficult question as I’ve worked with some good players and good men over the years since moving into coaching. There’s different characteristics that you need in a team that different players can bring whether that’s experience, personality, winning mentality, leadership or natural talent so many have had that. On genuine natural football ability I would have to say Danny Green who I latterly worked with at Wealdstone. He is easy on the eye in terms of how he handles the ball and some of the things he did were different class. It seemed effortless with him so I’d have to say Danny for sure.
You joined a club that was sitting bottom of the table, where do you think the team can finish
I’m confident we can avoid relegation so would take anything above that right now. Been in and around the bottom at Christmas generally means you’re in a relegation battle for the rest of the season so we have to face into that. I believe we can pick up points to see us right but won’t set a place target. Just not bottom.
What are your and the clubs ambition in the short and long term?
In the short term I want to be able to put out a side I trust to implement what I want my teams to do, give the players some confidence and belief in what we’re trying to do here. In the long term, it’s to restore some pride in the team and be in a place where we’re looking upwards. Whether that be this year or next year. The chairman Ian and the committee have work extremely hard on the facilities to make the club house a place where people can enjoy themselves. The playing surface is good sand there is plenty of work planned around the ground. All they want in terms of ambition is for the football team to replicate the hard work they put in, and the results will be what they will be. There’s no excuses here, it’s a decent place for players to come and play at step 4 so we aim to have a team that competes week in week out.
Will you be looking to develop links with other local clubs either semi-pro or professional?
It’s difficult to say we can have links with professional clubs. Playing at step 4 means there are 3 non-league levels before you get to ours so the reality is that we’d only get access to very young professionals or even youth team players. I have contacts with coaches at a few clubs so it may be something we utilise later down the line. Links with semi-pro clubs are probably more of a route I’d be looking at. I’ve already had some fantastic support from other managers and coaches of teams at this level and above and locally there are some clubs we’ll work with where there is a benefit for all in having a link. We can possibly provide game time for a player needing some minutes, which helps us in getting more quality in. For our players knowing there is a potential pathway to levels above through our links can also mean it gives them something to strive for which in turn can only benefit us.
What games are you looking forward to the most in the remainder of the season?
I’d say Marlow as Mark Bartley who is their manager is a friend of mine, having gown up in the same area as him, so will be interesting standing in an opposing dugout to him as managers. Bracknell Town would be the other as they are only 10 minutes from where I live. If In was watching games at this level previously that was the ground I visited the most. They were favourites to win the league so that will be a game to look forward to.