Tuesday 18th May 2004

Hume aims for promotion 

Hume teams up with Walker again after taking Maidstone United job

To end the speculation surrounding the club's management team, Go Travel Kent League Premier Division side, Maidstone United released the following press statement today, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Stones announced: "Due to personal reasons manager, Mal Watkins has decided to retire from football management to spend more quality time putting his full-time employment back on track after the much publicised court case.

"The prison service internal investigation is imminent and will be ongoing throughout the pre-season.

"In making the decision, Watkins, who took over the helm in January, said: "I've enjoyed every minute at the club and had hoped to be part of a championship winning team this term.  This wasn't to be and I now have other priorities in my life."

Commenting on the decision, chairman Paul Bowden-Brown added: "We're obviously sorry to see Mal go after such a long association, but fully understand his reasons and thank him for all he has done and wish him every success in the future.

"Our new manager, who has signed a one-year agreement will be ex-Fisher Athletic and Tonbridge Angels assistant-manager, Lloyd Hume, and he will take control with immediate effect."

Speaking on the club's website www.maidstoneunited.co.uk Watkins added: "It really is a case that I need to devote all my time at the moment to the upcoming enquiry and getting my working career back on track.

"Managing Maidstone required daily input in terms of training, planning and the actual hands on management of the squad and my belief is if you can't give 100% then you don't do it.

"However, when it's all over I hope to make a return to football and who knows it may even be with Tunbridge Wells to take more points off the Stones!

"I would however, like to thank all those genuine fans who have got behind the lads and understand what was going on at the club and it's also a big thank you to all the players who each gave 100% for me this season.

"Finally my thanks also go to all those backroom staff at the club and most importantly Paul Bowden-Brown.  It just remains for me to say I wish Maidstone United every success for the future and hope you get promoted and get back to where you belong!"

New manager, Lloyd Hume expressed his delight at joining the club and rekindling the partnership with Alan Walker.

Hume said: "First of all it's great to be joining Maidstone Untied and linking up with Alan Walker again.  We have worked together both at Tonbridge Angels and Fisher Athletic and our success was based on honesty with each other and working well with the players we had."

Looking ahead, he added: "We have been working tirelessly for the last week looking for players willing to make the move to Maidstone and help strengthen the squad.

"That's not to say there will be a huge clear out of the current one, they have all been invited back to pre-season training.

"I obviously understand the concern that fans may have about the upheaval of bringing in new players to the squad, but there is a good core of players at this club we can build upon.  

"We're not going to rush out and bring in expensive players, from the players we have worked with we know who will be able to play at Kent League level and have the personalities to fit in with the squad already here.  Alternatively we know players that would not be able to adapt to the Kent League.  It's not about getting in expensive players, it's about getting the players in we know we can rely on and can win this league.

"Alan and myself are well used to pulling together strong squads, even at Tonbridge last year, we had only 4/5 players at the start of the season and despite all the new faces we were 15 points clear at Christmas. Yes, ideally we'd like 2 years to develop the squad, but we want promotion this coming season and that's what we aim to achieve.

"It's also not about having big budget, we know what's available from the chairman and we believe we can do it within those budgets. At Tonbridge there was a lot of rumour that we had a massive budget, but in reality it wasn't that much more that Maidstone had last season.

"When you've worked with clubs and produced the goods on the pitch, they didn't have the ambition to progress, what's happening at Maidstone is very exciting, particularly with the new ground together with the ambition of the chairman to bring success to the town and it will be great to be part of the ambitious set up at the club."

Meanwhile, Alan Walker who remains in his advisory role with the club expressed his delight at Hume's appointment.  

Walker said:" I've worked with Lloyd for a number of season's now and I like to think those have been some very successful season's both at Fisher and Tonbridge. He's a very experienced coach, holding a UEFA B Grade 1 license and I've got no qualms about working alongside him again. We've always worked well sharing the duties of management and even in my current role I'm looking forward to working alongside Lloyd again."

Walker also backed up Hume's ambitions for the club;" We both have big plans for the summer, talking to numerous players and despite the rumours, there won't be that many from Tonbridge as they'll be wanting to stay on and play at a higher level. We're looking everywhere to see who we can attract, but that's not to say there's anything wrong with the current squad. They've are all invited back, but I'm sure that they accept that there is a need to strengthen the side and things do need to improve. My feelings there are that at the end of the day they were only 3 points off the title and that the mid-season upheavals didn't help their cause, but they have that experience now and hopefully with a lot of hard work we can build on that. But at the end of the day, we both know the score for next season and that's to get promotion and we hope to get together a squad that will do that and we hope our success at both Fisher and Tonbridge will continue and bring the deserved success for Maidstone as well."

Finally, for those of you who need an introduction to our new manager, Hume, 32, has played at a variety of non-league sides during his playing career starting as a trainee with Gillingham, together with stints with Sittingbourne, Fisher, Hastings and Tonbridge. His management credentials include his Assistant to Alan Walker both at Fisher and Tonbridge. He still plans to continue playing with his usual position being centre-half, sweeper or playing in midfield, and he plans to work on his fitness over the summer.