I think the club’s looking to step up not just one level but at least two, says new Rusthall boss Chris Hollyoak
RUSTHALL’S newly-appointed manager Chris Hollyoak says he has not severed his links with Tonbridge Angels after taking charge of the Kent Invicta League club today.
The 52-year-old was unveiled as the Rustics new manager after former boss Gary Sharman guided the club to a bottom four finish, having won seven and drawn three of their 30 league games.
EXCITED: Rusthall have unveiled Chris Hollyoak as their new manager and he reveals the Jockey Farm club have aspirations to rise up two levels, to the Ryman League Division One South.
Photo: Rusthall FC
“Absolutely can’t wait, can’t wait to get started, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Hollyoak.
Hollyoak revealed that young players at Tonbridge Angels are likely to be given a chance to gain experience in Rusthall’s first team squad next season.
“I was there for 12 years. I’ve not necessarily excluded all the links. I’m still going to be involved in the Academy and also the under 18s and I want to prove myself with regards my own personal circumstances and take on a first team manager’s role and I see the Rusthall job the ideal opportunity.
“My role at Tonbridge has been reserve team manager. I’ve been doing that for the last four or five years and I think it’s time to move on. However, I’ve still got links to the club but my primarily prerogative will be Rusthall’s first team.
“I spoke to the chairman and said that everyone’s welcome down who was involved (at Rusthall) last year. I know a lot of the players from last season’s squad. There’s a lot of good players and I’ll be disappointed to lose them.”
When asked about his aims at Jockey Farm next season, Hollyoak replied: “First of all, play attractive football. I want to play attractive football and I want to get players attracted to the club.
“With the ground improvements that are going in at the moment and the lights going in, I think the club’s looking to step up not just one level but at least two and I think it’s exciting times.”
In order to reach Ryman League Division One South, Hollyoak will use his links with Tonbridge Angels, who finished fifth-from-bottom in the Ryman Premier League in Steve McKimm’s first season in charge.
“If you look at the step from the reserve team to first team at Tonbridge that gap is quite big but if you add another level in there and you put in Rusthall as in the Kent Invicta League side then there will be some players that will benefit from by playing at that level. There will be other players from Tonbridge joining us, yes.”
When asked what his aspirations are in his first season in charge of Rusthall, Hollyoak replied: “We want to finish as high as possible and get a good Cup run.
“It’s my first job in the managerial point of view in regards to a first team so I’ll be feeling my way to begin with and then I’ll be looking forward to working with the players, getting the best out of the players, playing attractive football. Get known locally for playing attractive football, working hard and getting results.”
Meanwhile, off the pitch, Joe Croker, who took Tunbridge Wells to Wembley as chairman in 2013, has joined the Rustics in a similar role.
The club have had their planning permission for floodlights recently granted and there are big plans for ground improvements at Jockey Farm.
Hollyoak added: “I met Joe for the first time not Sunday just gone but Sunday previously and got on well and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Visit Rusthall’s website: www.pitchero.com/clubs/rusthallfootballclub