Paul Ettridge revealed the lure of getting back into senior football management proved too good to turn down after agreeing to become head coach at Southwick Football Club.
Ettridge, whose only previous stint as a senior manager ended in relegation with East Preston, will form a new-look Wickers coaching set-up with joint managers Tony Gratwicke and Jeff Piner assisting him.
The trio will replace sacked former boss John Kilgarriff for the upcoming Southern Combination League Division 1 campaign.
After a discussion with Gratwicke, Ettridge decided to vacate his position as Burgess Hill’s under-18 manager and take a step back into senior football.
His first and only attempt so far was not a fruitful one but that has left him with a burning desire to succeed with the team he’s previously turned out for as a player.
Ettridge’s sole campaign as a senior manager was with East Preston, who were relegated from the SCFL Premier Division, but he won’t be looking back on that next term and said: “It was a really tough time for me – that season was really difficult.
“Just getting a team out at East Preston was seen as a success at the time and we were struggling to find any consistency.
“Last season with Burgess Hill really got my love for football back.
“I wasn’t looking at getting back into senior management so soon but, after a discussion with Tony (Gratwicke), I’ve decided to get back into it.
“Southwick is a club near to my home, a place with great potential and a team I can only see growing.”
Gratwicke has been assistant manager at Wickers for the previous five seasons and Ettridge felt him remaining at the club was a key reason in him deciding to join as head coach.
The pair have known each other for several years and it’s a partnership Ettridge hopes will blossom, alongside the other joint manager, Piner.
He added: “I think Tony being involved next season was another big reason for me to come on board.
“He knows the club well and will be a key part for myself, the team and board next season.
“I’m really looking forward to the new season now and excited to see how things work with the three of us.
“I didn’t just want to come in, coach and not be part of things on matchdays.
“I’ll be involved every Saturday afternoon with Tony and Jeff on the sidelines.”
With vast knowledge of youth football across the county, Ettridge is hopeful of bringing some talented youngsters to the club over the summer.
He said: “I was manager of Burgess Hill’s under-18’s last season, so I watched a great deal of youth football.
“I’m not too aware of the current playing squad at Southwick but Tony and Jeff will have better knowledge than me.
“If we do need to strengthen in certain areas, I’ll look at bringing a youngster in.”
Southwick report back for pre-season training tomorrow at Southwick Rec (7pm).
For more details on the pre-season schedule, call Tony Gratwicke on 07801 230943.
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