Friday 03rd June 2005

Please credit article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk

The potential at Tonbridge is enormous

TONBRIDGE ANGELS are on the up under Nick Sullivan's chairmanship according to their newly appointed reserve team manager, Julian Leigh, writes Stephen McCartney.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Leigh, who has ended a long association with Sevenoaks Town, is looking forward to working with first team player-boss Tony Dolby and preparing the club's youngsters for first team football in the Ryman League.

Leigh, who finished last season as joint first team manager with Gary Davies at Greatness Park, also managed Sevenoaks Town's under 15's side and most of that side will move lock stock and barrel to the Angels - as their under 16 side - with Leigh at the helm.

And Leigh explained the situation.  "Basically as you are aware, there's a new consortium come in and bought Tonbridge Angels and Nick Sullivan, a good friend of mine, whose been helping me with my under 15 side at Sevenoaks Town, has subsequently taken over as chairman.

"The reason behind it is Tonbridge were using Nick's under 18 players to come into the first team and bypassing the reserve team.

"I will be running the reserve side to bring the youth through ready for first team football - we want continuity between the first and reserve teams, as it should be."

Leigh will be meeting first team player-manager Dolby within two weeks and Leigh is hoping everyone will be signing from the same hymn sheet.

"What I have heard Tony is a pretty switched on guy and I'm looking to help him.  I am hoping Tony will have confidence in me so when first team players need to come back from injury I will do what Tony wants with regards to bringing them back to fitness.

"I want Tony to have confidence in me to let players play, and we'll work hand in hand to have a strong first team and have young players coming through into that first team."

Leigh, however, is relishing the chance to manage at a club that plays at a higher level and is, in a way, sorry to be leaving his home-town club but admits it's time to move on.

The 48-year-old who lives in Kemsing and works in Sevenoaks as an after sales director for Davis Renault, added: "Sevenoaks Town have done extremely well (to get into the Kent League from the Kent County League) but it needs to push on now.

(Former manager) "John James has said finance is a massive thing in the Kent League.  If you get the players you can do well but they need the budget to get them.

"They need a rich benefactor but I question the support of the town.  Sevenoaks' is much a rugby and cricket town.  In the first season in the Kent League we were averaging about 100 but last season it dropped to around 80."

But Leigh is pleased he has been given the opportunity by Sullivan to work at a "bigger club".

"The potential at Tonbridge is enormous, purely on the support basis alone," he said.

"And to be honest and no disrespect to Sevenoaks, I am involved in a bigger club.  I have also taken over the under 16s at Tonbridge, some of my under 15 players at Sevenoaks have moved over and there is basically a strong side and what I am looking to do after Christmas is start to bring in some of the under 16's into the reserves just to get the experience, even if it's just sitting on the bench.

"They will be training with the reserves and under 18's for them to get more experience and used to adult football.  I've got potentially some really good players."

And knowing Sullivan the way he does, Leigh is very impressed with his ideas and enthusiasm for the Avavan Longmead Stadium club, taking over from Paul Dainty.

"Nick is very professional in his approach and with that and forward thinking it's a very good thing for the club."

On departing Greatness Park, Leigh praised Gary Davies and former manager John James.

"I don't envy Gary but I say he was a good coach and organiser.  JJ (John James) is a very good man motivator and I thoroughly enjoyed working with both of them but sometimes you have got to move on," added the former Sevenoaks Town goalkeeper who spent 15 years playing for the club, playing reserve team, first team and for the county representative side.