Elphick relishing exciting chance to lead Hastings United

Gary Elphick says he is relishing the job of trying to guide Hastings United to the Isthmian premier division.

Gary Elphick in action v Cray Valley PM - but he plans to stop playing to concentrate on management / Picture: Scott White
Gary Elphick in action v Cray Valley PM - but he plans to stop playing to concentrate on management / Picture: Scott White

And the Pilot Field favourite is to stop playing so he can give management of the first team his full attention.

As the Observer revealed last week, Elphick – assisted by Andrew Brown and his old Worthing management partner Jon Meeney – has been asked to fill the gap left by Chris Agutter’s resignation a fortnight ago. Results-wise it has been a mixed start for Elphick and Co.

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United slipped to a 2-1 home defeat to league leaders Cray Valley PM last Saturday – though it was a highly contentious winner that left them pointless – but they won 1-0 at Burgess Hill in the Sussex Senior Cup in midweek thanks to a Sam Adams goal.

Gary Elphick, centre, with Andrew Brown and Jon Meeney / Picture: Scott White

Elphick said: “It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. I was Aggy’s man and kind of led in the dressing room for him. He’s one of the best in the non-league game and now he’s gone, the ship needs steadying.

“Billy Wood approached me and Andrew and said he wanted me to take it on. I am honoured to be doing the job and Browny and Meens (Jon Meeney) will have vital roles to play.

“I intend to play only for another week or two. I will stay registered but we plan to bring in another centre-half because I feel I can approach the management side better if I’m not playing.

“I’ve been struggling this year with injuries anyway – there have been games when I’ve been no more than 50 per cent fit.

“I’m 36 and after something like 700 games I’m not getting any physically better!”

Elphick said it was an exciting time to be at Hastings, with the whole club working towards the aim of getting the club into the Isthmian premier.

“When we first went into management at Worthing we were a two-man band doing everything,” he said.

“Here we have a good budget, full support staff and everything is in place. It’s a strong squad that obviously I know well and who have responded well to my asppointment.

“And of course we have a fantastic fan base. Our confidence has taken a few knocks later but we’ll come back from those knocks.”

Hastings visit Three Bridges tomorrow and host Sittingbourne on Tuesday looking for back-to-back wins. Elphick said: “The mission by Christmas is to get right in among the leading teams.”