ROY HANLEY has been appointed as the new permanent manager for Henley Town FC.
The former youth team boss took temporary charge of the first team following the departure of Mark Coles in November and led the side to their first points of the season.
The Lilywhites sit bottom of Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East but the club’s top brass decided Hanley was the man to take the club forward after noticing an improvement in performances.
Hanley, from Binfield Heath, said: “It’s a great opportunity for me and it’s my local club but there’s a lot of hard work to do not just for the rest of this season but also in pre-season and beyond that.
“I’ve been gutted with the amount of games we’ve had called off because the squad has actually improved even since the last game. We’ve brought in a few more players and we’re looking better.” Henley remain 11 points below second-bottom Thatcham Town Reserves with less than half the season to go.
Finishing bottom would not automatically result in relegation as teams in the division below must fulfil a number of requirements such as the standard of facilities.
Hanley, who holds the UEFA B qualification, said: “The major thing for me is obviously it’s going to be difficult to finish out of the bottom places and if the club isn’t relegated that will be a major influence on how the club goes forward.
“I think that’s going to be a big challenge but the last couple of months have shown we’re on the right track. I feel we’ve started to develop a fairly good side.
“We’re working extremely hard, fitness levels are improving and I’m really looking forward to showing how we’ve improved between now and the end of the season, then building from there.”
Hanley, who has two children with his wife Helen, a veterinary surgeon at Henley Vets, said he wanted to make the Lilywhites a club for people in the town.
“Going forwards I will be looking to build a team using players primarily from the local area. I think people playing for their local club have a bit more loyalty and a more vested interest in it.
“Hopefully it will appeal to people in the town and make them interested in the club if it has local people involved.
“It’s a great sporting town with rowing, hockey and rugby and we want to give football an equal appeal to everyone. There’s a lot of competition but it’s the national sport so there’s got to be people in Henley who want to see the club doing well.”
Hanley said he is also hoping to develop relationships with several organisations in the town and erect signposts to the Triangle ground in Mill Lane as part of the drive to promote the club to residents.
He will build his own backroom staff in the summer with Simon Johnson currently assistant manager after Craig Sumner, who had formed a caretaker management team with Hanley, is set to concentrate on the youth team again.
Chairman Jack Hollidge said he was very happy with Roy’s work to date, adding: “He’s done very well with the reorganisation of the place and the new people he’s been able to bring in. “He’s well qualified and this was a key factor. In football at this level you’ve got to have a pretty high standard of coaching ability, experience and contacts. It’s probably Roy’s main target at the moment to establish around him a back-up team of some quantity and quality.
“At this level you can’t really be the manager, coach, physio, bus driver and kitman so you need a full team around you. One of the things that impressed us about Roy was his acknowledgement that there’s a need for a team off the pitch as well as on the pitch. He will also need someone to scout players and this is what he will be looking to establish throughout the rest of the season and the summer. It’s looking very progressive.”
Hollidge, who believes there are some rising stars in the youth set-up, said making the appointment now gives the new boss time to bring in new faces for next season.
Hollidge said the recent poor weather had come at a bad time for the side as it knocked their momentum. Their last game was a 3-3 draw away to league leaders Rayners Lane on January 5.
“We could have done without this bad weather. We got our first decent result but we’ve had to stop because of the rain and snow.
“Just as Roy has got the team together effectively they’re stopped playing because of the postponed matches.”