JUSTIN Luchford insists he does not want to be compared to John Maggs, the man he has succeeded as Horsham manager, as he attempts to take the club into a new era.
The former Faversham boss was speaking to a packed Gorings Mead crowd at last night’s (Wednesday’s) ‘meet the manager’ evening.
Along with his assistant managers Hugo Langton and Richard Langley, he spoke at length on his vision for the club while fielding a range of questions from fans in a lively discussion which lasted for more than two hours.
Luchford gave some background into his playing and managerial career while speaking of his pride at becoming Horsham manager, and while he said he realised just how big a challenge he had taken on he promised exciting times were ahead.
Describing the club as in a ‘period of transition’, he said: “I’ve got some tough boots to fill, but I don’t want to be compared to John Maggs, he was here for 11 years and is a legend at this club.
“I met John last week and I wish him all the best for his future career, but I think I would have to be here for 11 years before you can start comparing me to him.”
The 34 year old, who works for Deutsche Bank in London and lives in Greenwich, insisted football was not just a hobby and stated his desire to come out of banking and go into management full time.
He introduced his joint assistant managers Langton and Langley, saying he was delighted to have their collective experience on board and outlining their role in developing the club’s young players and creating a more professional approach.
Following the exodus of the majority of last year’s squad and with only expenses to offer potential new signings, Luchford was asked how he would attract new players capable of competing in the Ryman Premier.
Remaining hugely positive throughout he said: “We have to give players something they are not going to get elsewhere. A lot of clubs at this level and even the level above just go out and play, so what we have to do is provide professionalism on and off the pitch.”
“I think we’re in a strong position because we can pick and choose from a lot of players that have the desire to win and they know they’ll get a chance here which gives us a strong hand.
“I have managed to attract players without money before (at Faversham) and believe I can do it again.”
Luchford insisted he was not worried about the lack of players who had committed themselves to Horsham for next season so far, saying there was plenty of time to build his squad before the season begins.
Asked if his optimism was justified, Luchford said: “Of course I’m going to be optimistic, otherwise there’s no point me being here. But we also have to be realistic. We are going to be the underdog in every game we play, but I love being the underdog because everyone’s going to come here and expect to take three points.
“But we know what we are doing, and the players that go onto the pitch will know exactly what they’re doing as well.”
The management team also answered questions on their youth policy, saying while the players would be given a chance they would be protected and allowed to develop, and on the issue of captaincy said that no decision had been made but praised Ryan Woodford and Jahmahl King for throwing their hats in the ring.
Speaking about his playing style Luchford said adaptability would be key and that his tactics would depend on the opponents, adding that he had two formations in mind with a third to use ‘ad hoc’.
Chairman Kevin Borrett then addressed the fans and reiterated his manager’s confidence that the new squad would be competitive.
Speaking about the cuts to the budget he said: “Whilst a budget is obviously important, what counts on the pitch is 11 players working together as a team and being more than the sum of the parts.”
He also went on to speak about Horsham’s new ground, saying that an agreement with a landowner to the south of Horsham was currently being finalised. He said he would not be pushed, however, to name the exact site or give a time line as he did not want to repeat mistakes he had made in the past over missed deadlines.
The mood of the evening was positive throughout with the new management given a round of applause at the end and Luchford was also presented with a cheque from Horsham Independent Supporters Club for £2,000 to go towards his playing budget.
Long-standing fan Nigel Smithers was also named as the winner to play 15 minutes of one of Horsham’s pre-season friendlies in a competition which raised a further £220 for the club.
Luchford rounded off the night by repeating the new management team’s confident outlook on the forthcoming season when he said: “I don’t want to hear about the budget or the word relegation after tonight. While there are no certainties in this life...what I can tell you is in 2012/13 we will still be playing Ryman League football because by hook or by crook I am not taking this club down.”