David Hurst is gutted to be stepping down as joint manager of Godmanchester Rovers but wholeheartedly condones the club’s choice for his replacement. In fact, the 49-year-old, who has spent 35 years with the club, said he might even have stayed on another year if Matty Haniver hadn’t agreed to take on the job.
Haniver, the 32-year-old former Cambridge United and Histon player, was appointed a coach at the Eastern Counties League Premier Division club last season and will now be Nev Nania’s co-manager as the club prepares for its third campaign at Step 5.
“It is with a sad heart that I am stepping down,” said Hurst. “But, with work commitments, I couldn’t guarantee to give the job 100 per cent anymore. And I always said if that was the case I would let someone else have a go. But if Matty hadn’t agreed to take the job, I might have been tempted to carry on for another season. If I could have hand-picked a coach from this area it would have been Matty.”
David’s nephew, Nicky Hurst, who has been a rock at the heart of the team’s defence in recent years, will be Nania and Haniver’s assistant. This is something that also pleases the departing boss.
“It’s a natural progression. There has been a Hurst playing for the first team or the reserves since 1967 – since my oldest brother Harry first played,” he said. “I have 10 brothers and six of them have played for Godmanchester. So it is great that Nicky will be their assistant. That was important to me.”
Hurst made his debut as a 14-year-old, playing for the reserves in 1979. In those days the team played on the recreation ground in the town and used a hut as a changing room. Now they play their football at Bearscroft Lane where work is continuing to get the ground ready for Step 4 football should the team do well enough to win promotion. “A lot has changed,” he said. “We have come a long way since then. That’s thanks to the committee and people like the chairman Keith Gabb, my brother Karly, and the kitman Kev Nixon – Godmanchester people who put in so much time. I want to thank everyone who keeps the club going.”
The chairman, Gabb, told The Hunts Post: “To be fair, as well as his work commitments, David needs a break to spend time with his family. Six years as a manager can take up a lot of your time.
“But we are delighted that Matty is now joint manager with Neville. He is one of the top coaches in the county and has been an excellent coach for the club.”
Nania said: “The future looks great. Matty will be an asset and I think he will develop into a top, top manager. And Nicky Hurst will be another strong voice in the changing room.”
Haniver, , who is a full-time community coach for the Football Association, said: “It’s going to be a real challenge – but one I am really looking forward to.”
Talking at Bearscroft Lane on Saturday, he said: “I’m a coach, that’s in my make-up, that’s what I am qualified in and do for a living – but management is different.
“I don’t think you can suddenly become a good manager. You have to learn your trade. And you do that by watching other people work.
“David and Nev have put a lot of trust in me – they gave me a lot of ownership and responsibility over the team in the last year and a half, but we have all played our part.
“Nev’s a real doer and gets things done and Dave’s man management is really good.
“I have taken a lot from Dave in terms of how he deals with players when delivering both positive messages and motivational messages. You can’t look too far ahead but I am ambitious and I want to be the best coach and manager that I can be.
“If that is with Godmanchester Rovers then great – if it’s with England, winning the World Cup, then even better.”