New Haverhill Rovers manager Ben Cowling admits to being ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the positive reaction of many to his being given the job.
The former Haverhill Borough manager was announced as the new incumbent of the Rovers hot seat on Tuesday, bringing to an end an association with Borough - the last 16 months as chairman - that began when the club was first formed as Haverhill Sports Association (HSA) in 2011.
Cowling took HSA up through the Essex & Suffolk Border League via two successive promotions, whereupon they were renamed Haverhill Borough and joined the Thurlow Nunn League First Division, finishing fourth in their first season, just one point off the top three.
He now takes over as manager at a club he played for in more than 300 games, and it is a challenge he felt was too good not to take on.
“I’ve made no secret about missing management and opportunities like Rovers don’t come along too often,” he said.
“It is a big club. It has lots of structure behind the first team. The U21s were successful last year, the U18s were successful last year and the EJA, all the way through the youth side of things, is feeding in now so everything behind the scenes leads up to promoting the first team.”
Rovers has been in state of flux since former player-manager Michael Shinn - who last week was appointed manager of Kershaw Premier League side West Wratting - was sacked in February and a dozen first team players walked out in the ensuing weeks.
A new dawn has broken, however, and Cowling, 39, knows what his priorities are.
“Circumstances are a bit tricky now at the moment, but if they were not you wouldn’t be getting the job.
“The main priority for me is to speak to as many local players as I can. i want to get a feel of the situation locally. I’ve spoken to lots already and people have contacted me. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the positivity that’s out there.”
Cowling sees young players such as Mitchell Burr, Rory Jebb and Jack Howard, as an important part of the future moving forward, but concedes about eight to ten senior players will need to be brought in to strengthen the squad.
The new manager is also keen to sort out the backroom staff and the U21s management as soon as possible.
A joint statement from Borough and Rovers about Cowling’s appointment praised his achievements at Borough, adding: “Haverhill Borough wish Ben every success in his move, and look forward to the future with continuing optimism.
“The whole club continues to progress under a strong committee which will be widened in the coming days, whilst in the interim, treasurer David Hardwick will become Chairman.
“Rovers would like to take this opportunity in thanking Haverhill Borough for their cooperation and professionalism in dealing with this transition and look forward to forming a closer working relationship moving forward.
“Rovers are delighted to welcome Ben on board. Ben was always the committees preferred choice to become the new manager and has a proven track record within local football especially after his successes previously as both Haverhill Rovers reserve team and Haverhill Borough first team manager but as importantly always conducts himself in a professional manner which is a vital trait when heading up an FA Charter Standard Community Football Club as he will be a role model for many young people.”