A new coach has been given the chance to shine at Haverhill Rovers after agreeing to take over for the rest of the season – and hopefully beyond.
Kieron Hammatt, 34, had been acting as assistant to interim manager Ali Shulver after being one of the original applicants to take over the post of first team manager vacated by Peter Betts at the beginning of November.
He offered to help as assistant coach with the aim of becoming manager for the 2013/14 season, as Shulver had said he did not intend to stay in the post beyond the end of the current campaign.
Now Hammatt, from West Row, has been given the opportunity to prove himself in the hotseat before the Rovers committee decide at the end of the season who the new manager will be.
“I’m over the moon – Haverhill is a fantastic club with a really good set up and passionate committee members who want to do things properly, who are trying to drive the club forward and achieve sustainable growth,” he said.
“I love my football, and once I got here I saw the lads bonded really well.
“I know there’s not a lot of money about, but from talking to the lads I’ve seen that’s not their main driver – they want to play football and they want to play for Haverhill, and for me I want to stay on and prove myself as the man for this job.
“If you look at the facilities here then you won’t get that coaching at the same level locally.
“We should be aiming for a top six finish – if we can get a bit of consistency we can do that, as we have been giving away sloppy goals recently which have cost us points.”
The new coach favours a 4-4-2 formation, but is not expecting to make many changes to the XI fielded by Shulver.
Hammatt originally worked at the community department at Colchester United for seven years, before moving to Crewe and working with Nantwich Town for four seasons in step three football.
He coached Staffordshire outfit Eccleshall to their highest placed finish of seventh before moving back to East Anglia for work with partner Vanessa Edwards, 35, in August 2012.
He helped out at Stanway Rovers, who his brother played for and who he will face at the New Croft in his first competitive game on Saturday (February 16, 3pm kick off), and then helped coach Mark Scott at Thetford Town.
“The squad at the minute wil Jack Wilkinson and Dan Morphew joining is very strong – we still have some injuries but we’re in a strong position,” he said.
“The lads that are here have done a really good job and that’s why I’m not looking to bring anyone in. I don’t think we need to strengthen – the club has been through a massive change with Pete going, then Ali and now me, but I’m more than happy with the squad and think we have enough quality and depth, and now we just need the consistency in our performances.”
The Rovers committee gave Hammatt the chance on the recommendation of Shulver, who will stay on as assistant coach.
Shulver was thanked by the committee for his tenure, which saw him win six of 13 Thurlow Nunn Premier Division games (46.1 per cent) lose three (23 per cent) and draw four (30.7 per cent) and boost the side’s goal difference by seven (scored 26, conceded 19) to leave them ninth in the table.
He saw them advance past Hadleigh United in the Red Insure Cup before exiting to Stanway Rovers.
Chairman Mike Tokely thanked Shulver for his input and said he would remain an important link between the dugout and the committee.
Sam Holmes is still a fortnight away from a return, while Neil Cogger is absent for a the same period on holiday.
Aaron Forshaw is likely to come back in four weeks and Jamie Challis is still a month or two away from his return.
For all the latest sport see today’s (Thursday, February 14) Echo.