Ex-Mansfield Town and Eastwood boss Paul Cox “really looking forward” to being back in management after 18 months out the game

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Mansfield manager Paul Cox looks on prior to during the Sky Bet League Two match between Bristol Rovers and Mansfield Town at Memorial Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Bristol, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Mansfield manager Paul Cox looks on prior to during the Sky Bet League Two match between Bristol Rovers and Mansfield Town at Memorial Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Paul Cox can’t wait to get started after he was appointed as the new manager of Kettering Town.

The former Eastwood Town, Mansfield Town and Barrow boss was confirmed as the permanent replacement to Nicky Eaden on Thursday after the club completed a 30-day search for a new manager.

For Cox, it is a return to management over 18 months since his last job at Guiseley.

But it is also a return to the Poppies after he made 125 appearances for the club in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Cox was a popular figure on the terraces and was named player-of-the-year in the 1998-99 campaign when Kettering finished as runners-up behind Conference champions Cheltenham Town.

Now he is back and has a big task on his hands as he bids to help lift the current crop off the foot of the Vanarama National League North.

“I really am looking forward to it,” the 47-year-old said.

“I took a bit of time away from the game and that was my own decision.

“I have my wife and two beautiful girls and I needed to spend a bit of time with them and I needed to look at the game from a different perspective.

“I needed to have that little break and balance my life but that fire in the belly never really goes away.

“People always say that being away from the game is the worst time but, for me, it’s been fabulous. I have learned so much about myself and so much more about the game.

“But now is the right time and when this opportunity came up, it really stood out.

“I have got some fabulous memories from my time playing for Kettering and I always felt I had a close bond with the supporters.

“The people around the club were always brilliant and they still are.

“Some things have changed but just coming back and speaking to people brought back those memories of playing for this club in some good times.

“It was a special time and I think people have forgotten just what a big football club Kettering is and what it could evolve into.

“I am under no illusions of how tough it’s going to be. But I have always had that self belief.

“The one thing that is quite clear from speaking to people at the club is that there is a desire to grow and progress.

“There’s a logical plan to grow and build but I don’t think anyone is kidding themselves over the fact that this season hasn’t gone how they wanted.

“It is about no more than finishing outside the bottom two places. I know what we have got to do and I am quite looking forward to the challenge.”

Cox is set to watch from the stands on Saturday when the Poppies head to fellow strugglers Curzon Ashton with Steve Kinniburgh and Luke Graham, who were joint caretaker-managers while the search for a new boss took place, remaining in the dugout for a final time.