CRAIG Armstrong and Jamie Brough set up camp at Eastwood Town this week and guaranteed hard work aplenty to keep the club’s momentum going.
The duo have signed deals to become joint managers as a new era dawns at Coronation Park, with large-scale changes having swept the club in recent weeks.
Armstrong, 36, has over 400 professional games under his belt and includes clubs such as Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Cheltenham Town on his CV, having grown up in the north-east.
He was most recently player/assistant manager at Forest Green and the left-back intends to continue playing with the Badgers.
Brough, 34, saw his playing career cut short by his early 20s, but has spent time coaching at clubs including Hucknall Town in recent seasons.
The pair have been friends for many years and say that will aid them in their new roles. They are set to travel to Ireland next week to complete their UEFA ‘A’ coaching badges.
“We’re starting with a blank canvas because the players from last season aren’t here, nor is the same sort of money, so it was an opportunity for Jamie and I to put our own stamp on something,” said Armstrong.
“We’ve got people coming on board that we trust, and who trust us to take the club forward.”
Brough added: “We believe this can work because we trust and respect each other wholeheartedly, but also because I have a lot of knowledge of the game up to this kind of level, while Craig has good experience from having played above it, so we meet half way in that sense.
“Between us, having watched and played a lot of games we’ve got good knowledge of players not only in this league but also the ones directly above and below, and have already spoken a few targets.”
As the Advertiser went to press, details of the new owners at Coronation Park were unable to be released until certain formalities had been completed.
But Brough and Armstrong did emphasise their determination to match the expectation levels of fans given the club’s form in recent months.
Brough said: “I can guarantee you nobody in this division will be working harder than us next season. There will be a three to five-year plan in place and we’ll be aiming as high as we can.”
Armstrong added: “The budget is only going to be about a quarter of what was available before. If we could have kept the squad together from last season then we would have done, but the bottom line is that it wasn’t financially possible, although we are speaking to one or two with a view to trying to re-sign them.”
“A lot of players are financially driven and that can make things difficult, but we only want players here who want to play for the club and have that passion, and if that’s the case then you’ve already won half the battle.
“There’s a lot of work to do, we know that, but the fact is that there’s never been any other real income here in recent years other than the previous chairman, and the days of people having lots of money to spend at football clubs like this are few and far between.
“I hope the fans will realise that we’re trying to do something right. It’s easy for someone to bankroll something but if the plug is pulled you run the risk of the club not surviving.
“So we need to make sure we are at least breaking even, and bringing the fans back through the gate.”
The pair also explained their desire to reach out more to the community, as well as re-introducing a youth system at Coronation Park.
Brough said: “Having spoken to a few fans it seems the club hasn’t leant itself particularly well to the community in recent years, and there’s no youth structure in place whatsoever, so we’ll be looking to rectify those things by getting involved with businesses in the town and local junior clubs to try and forge some links.
“We’d also like to try and get the clubhouse operating more regularly.
“Ultimately, Craig and I will be judged on what happens on the pitch, but we want to do as much as we can to make the club grow.”