Thursday 17th March 2005

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Former Fleet boss Ford snapped up by Stevenage

GRAHAM Westley, manager of Nationwide Conference club Stevenage Borough, has added former Gravesend & Northfleet boss Andy Ford to his managerial team in preparation for the final run-in, reports www.nonleaguedaily.com

Ford  joins Stevenage on a short-term basis until the end of the season, although Westley sees a long-term role for his former adversary.

"I was impressed by the job Andy did at Gravesend,” said Westley. “First he built a team that eventually won promotion into the Conference and then he consolidated Gravesend as a highly competitive part time Conference club.

“He managed to keep improving the performance of his club during his time there. And I think that people who can keep improving things are valuable. Just as the signing of a new player can make a difference, so too can the addition of skills in the managerial ranks.

“I have asked him to contribute by assisting my coaching staff on the training ground and by generally sharing his ideas. But the key areas for Andy will be in the strengthening of the bridge between youth and first team set ups and in the area of talent identification.

“Andy works very hard, has an extensive knowledge of players and is well connected and regarded in the game. I want to gain every possible advantage in this run in and the acquisition of such a good professional will be another positive," said Westley.

Ford, who will become the club's first managerial team addition since the departure of former assistant-manager Graham Benstead, had words of his own to say: "It never occurred to me that Graham Westley would be interested in employing me. I couldn't say that we have ever been friends, but Graham was quick to approach me to join him after I left Gravesend and the lure of joining a club as big as Stevenage and working with somebody like Graham was too much to turn down.

“Having chatted with Graham, I realise that there will be a high demand for results and I am relishing that. I will give a lot but I know I will learn a lot. It will be strange to be assisting rather than running things but I know what I expected from my staff as a manager so I know what to give.

“I am relishing the opportunity of working with the calibre of players that we have on a full-time basis. We have at least nine great games to look forward to and must take one game at a time and approach them in a very positive way, starting with Aldershot Town on Saturday."

Westley reserved his final words for first-team coach Jimmy Dack and coaching assistant Lionel Perez. "These two men have been instrumental in our improvement this season. I don't make a fuss about their work. They support me in an exceptional way.

“With Andy now on board too, I think we are perfectly balanced with a good range of experience and skills to lead our team"