NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Young boss Ollie Drake given promotion challenge after Godmanchester Rovers appointment
- Credit: Archant
Godmanchester Rovers have appointed a new boss – and he is thought to be the youngest anywhere in non-league football.
Ollie Drake, 25, has been handed the reins at the David Wilson Homes Ground. He steps into Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division management after guiding Hardwick to Kershaw Premier Division title glory in the Cambs League last season.
Drake, who turned to coaching after seeing his playing career ended by injury at 17, has been given the target of masterminding a promotion push with three teams likely to go up next season.
He is relishing the challenge that lies ahead and is confident he can silence some expected doubters.
Drake said: “I’m thrilled to have been given the job and my aspiration is to finish as high as we possibly can next season.
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“I’m sure people out there will think I won’t be able to cut it, but I love to have an opportunity to prove them wrong.
“They will point to my age and the fact I don’t have much experience in men’s football, but those things count for nothing in my opinion.
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“I passed my UEFA B licence four years ago and coaching is my career outside of football as well.
“I’ve got passion, I’ve got ambition and I put everything I have into any team I manage.
“When I first got to Hardwick, I was doubted after a poor year in my previous post, but we achieved a runners-up finish that season and then went on to win it last season.”
Drake launched a Sunday side at the age of 18 and also worked with Newmarket Town Under 18s, Ipswich Town’s women’s side and Soham Town Rangers Reserves before being at Hardwick.
He will be assisted by his father, Steve, with Chris Hyem remaining part of the management team in a playing and coaching role.
Hyem, who has welcomed Drake’s appointment, combined playing and management for much of last season after replacing Adie Cambridge in the hotseat in October.
Rovers chairman Karly Hurst said: “We’re very pleased to attract Ollie to the club. He is enthusiastic and arrives with an excellent CV.
“We met with him yesterday and he immediately jumped at the chance of becoming manager of Godmanchester Rovers.
“He has been very successful at Hardwick, where he has assembled a good side and won a strong Cambs League in his second season as manager.
“It’s looking like three teams will be promoted next season and we’d love to be one of those, but there is no pressure on Ollie if we don’t quite make it.”
And Hyem is looking forward to being part of the new managerial set-up after steering Rovers away from relegation bother last season.
He said: “Ollie has good contacts and has done very well at Hardwick.
“I wanted to stay involved in the management team, but needed someone to come in to give me the chance to continue playing.
“Ollie has the same sort of ideas as I do, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”