Chairman Kevin Oakes returns to the dug-out for Chatham bound Welling Town

Wednesday 25th May 2022

WELLING TOWN chairman Kevin Oakes has re-appointed himself as the clubs manager ahead of the new season.

Oakes parted company with Darren Manning and his entire management team after only 35 games in charge of the nomadic club on Saturday 14 May.

The Boots finished their Southern Counties East Premier Division campaign in fourteenth-place, having put 43 points on the board from their 38 league outings last season.

Manning has since joined Charlie MacDonald’s management team at relegated Essex Senior League side Barking.

Oakes has appointed Blaine Horne as his assistant manager, Joe Ford comes in as head coach, while Alex Warner will undertake coaching duties.

“I’m delighted to welcome back Blaine Horne to the club, who has recently been managing successfully in the Kent County League with Metrogas,” Oakes said in a statement.

“Blaine was with the club from the day it started in Saturday football in 2016, so I know his personality and skills well and trusted him and his opinions entirely.

“His rapid progress personally is to his credit and it’s rare you’ll find anyone who has worked with him say anything other than positives and that he is deserving of his success.”

Ford, the son of the late Martin Ford, has overcome a personal battle with Sepsis and was previously the manager of Sporting Club Thamesmead.

“I don’t think anyone could have experienced more personal tragedy in recent years but the challenges as a result have made him an even stronger character than he already was,” added Oakes.

“He’s managed and coached at this level and above for some time, as well as running his own successful coaching company day-to-day.

“This gives him a vast array of experience and contacts far and wide at all levels locally and will be hugely beneficial to both Blaine and I.”

Oakes added: “Alex Warner runs one of the largest youth development companies in this country for this age section and puts a real onus on player development, enjoyment and maximising potential.

“Alex will be known to anyone with children, who have played football under his umbrella.”

Horne said he was delighted to be given the chance to return to the club, having managed Kent County League Division One West side Metrogas last season.

“I’m very excited to have been given the opportunity to return to Welling Town as the assistant manager working alongside Kev and the rest of the management team,” said Horne.

“The club means a massive amount to me personally as I started out there as a player six years ago in the Saturday sides debut season in the Kent County League and went on to spend spells as the reserve team manager and first team coach.

“After leaving, I was always a Welling Town fan and knew that one day there would be a homecoming.  I’m delighted to say that day is now.

“The hard graft and planning is well underway to make sure the clubs ambitions are met on and off the pitch.  Targets have been set and we’re all looking forward to putting in the work to make sure we reach them come the end of the season.”

Ford, who has been in the dug-out for the likes of Erith Town, Phoenix Sports, Erith & Belvedere, Cray Valley and Sporting Club Thamesmead, added: “I’m delighted to be back in football after agreeing over the weekend to join Welling Town as part of the management team for the 2022-23 season.

“After speaking to Kevin in detail about the clubs ambition, his plans for the coming season and beyond and the role that I will play within the new set-up, I was really excited and just felt that it was too good of an opportunity to turn down.

“I’ve known Kevin for a number of years through football and also work and we have always got on well.

“I know Kevin feels he has some unfinished business as a manager after his last tenure didn’t go as planned for various reasons during curtailed seasons and I will be working with him closely to support him in any way I can.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down as a management team and adding to the pre-season schedule already in place and then getting to work on the training pitch.

“For a club that is only six years old they have done extremely well to get to and hold their own in the league with teams that have been around a lot longer and we’ll continue that good work and enjoy it along the way.”

Meanwhile, Welling Town will be playing their home games at newly-promoted Isthmian League South East Division club Chatham Town next season.

“We’re extremely grateful to Chatham Town chairman Kevin Hake and his colleagues for allowing us to use the venue for a few league games towards the end of last season and that we can look forward to enjoying their excellent facilities and hospitality more regularly in the season ahead,” added Oakes.

“Further announcements regarding home friendlies during July will be announced in due course – including one against our new landlords.

“News on season tickets and groundhopper multi-buy passes will be issued in the coming days with an early bird offer including for those acquiring before mid-June.”

Visit Welling Town’s website: