Eastbourne United’s new manager Tobi Hutchinson admitted it wasn’t in his grand plan to be a senior football manager this season.
Hutchinson, who was United’s first team coach, agreed to take the role after manager Simon Rowland’s resignation was accepted by the club’s committee shortly after last Saturday’s 2-1 league victory against East Preston at the Oval.
Hutchinson said, “I’m not quite sure at this stage if it’s congratulations or commiserations. It was not something I was planning for but sometimes these things happen - especially in football. If I had turned it down now, perhaps I would not get another opportunity in future, so I had to go for it.
“In days gone by I was desperate to manage a senior side but lately I have been happy watching my lads play their football and I thought I didn’t need the hassle. But this opportunity came up, it is a great opportunity and I grabbed it.
“It is a challenge I’m really looking forward to. United are a great club. I started playing here as boy in 1985 and I want to see them doing well. We have the potential to be a Ryman League club. I’m not saying we will make it into the Ryman this season or next - but the potential is there. The priority will be to take care of business for the first team but I also want to work on the youth side and put some blocks in place.
“I feel Eastbourne hasn’t always covered itself in glory in making the most out of the talented youth players . I have been critical of clubs in the past for this and we have to try and make the most out of our young players. It is something I am passionate about but it’s an area at Unite d that needs a lot of work.”
Hutchinson has experience of management in senior football having previously managed at Worthing and Seaford Town. He was also the first team coach at the Oval when Eastbourne United won the league and cup double in 2008-09 under manager Brian Dennis.
Hutchinson has moved swiftly and brought back some of the players of that successful side to the Oval. Defender James Bywater and Lucas Mann have re-joined and Hutchinson also hopes to sign midfielder Brad Manton. Hutchinson added, “These lads won the double and some of them haven’t really played that much senior football since. I would love to get them back playing and enjoying their football once more.”
Outgoing boss Simon Rowland, who guided the club to the County League Two title and to the semi-final of the FA Vase said, “It was the most difficult decision I have had to make in football.
“But I felt it was the right time to go. It was nothing to do with results, I felt the club needed a fresh approach and it needs a lot more time dedicated to it than I can commit to at the moment. I want to be involved with successful teams and teams challenging and, as a club, it’s not quite there as yet
“There are some great people at the club. I have enjoyed working there and I hope they can progress.”
Rowland’s reign will be best remembered for their Vase run were they lost to eventual winners Sholing. He added, “ I still go through that day in my mind. It was a great run, we were so close to Wembley and I think as a club it has taken a bit of time to recover from that.”
Hutchinson’s first game in charge was their RUR Cup extra time defeat to Little Common (see page 96 for match report).
On Saturday United welcome Deal Town to the Oval for an FA Vase fixture.