I do not look at this as a backwards step in my career as I believe the club is going places and I want to be a part of that, says Sheppey United coach Will Graham

Sunday 23rd July 2017

WILL GRAHAM says Sheppey United are going places and he wants to be a part of it.

The 31-year-old UEFA A Licenced coach, has joined Ernie Batten’s management team at Holm Park.

The former Margate, Dover Athletic, Ramsgate and Herne Bay player was forced to retire at the age of 24 due to two serious knee injuries in quick succession.

He turned his hand to coaching and has been at Dover Athletic, Margate, Whitstable Town, where he was coach and then manager, before joining Hythe Town, where he was assistant manager to Clive Cook in the Isthmian League Division One South.

“After working at Dover Athletic and Margate with successful youth programmes, I was offered my first stint as first team coach under previous managers Jim and Danny Ward at Whitstable Town,” reflected Graham.

“In the most successful Ryman season ever for Whitstable Town saw Jim and Danny move back to Ramsgate, however, due to the hard work put in by myself, I was offered the position as manager at the club.

“After a tough start and several disagreements with (then) chairman Gary Johnson about the direction the club was going, both parties agreed to part ways.

“Within weeks of leaving Whitstable Town, Hythe Town manager Clive Cook approached me about coming in and in our first season we reached the play-offs eventually losing to the eventual winners Worthing.

“The second season saw me promoted to assistant manager.   However, I successfully passed my prison officer training and due to the time restraints and focus on my career as an officer, I decided to step down in January at Hythe and focus on my new position.”

However, with Sheppey United playing in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division, the furthest the club will have to travel to will be Rotherhithe or Crowborough (once their new 3G pitch is ready and they end their groundshare deal at Maidstone), Graham is now ready to return to football.

“This summer I have had several offers to come back into the game from National League, Bostik Premier and Bostik South clubs and all was really appealing.  However, due to various reasons wasn’t going to work for either parties.

“I was approached by new Sheppey singing Luke Girt, who I worked with at Whitstable Town and he mentioned the club was looking for someone to come on board.

“I have had several meetings about coming on board with Ernie and the plans for the club are fantastic and I do not look at this as a backwards step in my career as I believe the club is going places and I want to be a part of that.

“I am really looking forward about joining the club and working as part of the management team with a forward thinking club.”

Sheppey United open their campaign with an Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division rivals AFC Croydon Athletic on Saturday 5 August (15:00).

Newly-promoted Rusthall, who finished runners-up to Glebe in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division last season, visit Holm Park in the Premier Division seven days later.

Sheppey United are among the favourites for the title, along with Crowborough Athletic, Sevenoaks Town and Whitstable Town.

Visit Sheppey United’s website: www.sheppeyunitedfc.co.uk