Harrogate Railway Athletic have appointed former captain Liam Gray as their new manager.
The 36-year-old midfielder was handed the reigns at Station View this week and becomes the NCEL Premier Division outfit’s fourth boss in the last year.
“I’m very, very proud to have been given this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to getting going,” Gray said.
“It’s a nice story for me. I joined the club as a four-year-old, I was playing for the first team at the age of 17, captaining them not long after that and now I’m the manager.
“I’ve had some great times here, and also been involved in some real slogs and battles, but my love for this club is unquestionable. I’m excited by the challenge ahead of me.”
Gray takes over following a turbulent 2016/17 campaign that began with Lee Ashworth in charge and almost ended in relegation for the Railwaymen.
Ashworth was replaced by Paul Beesley in September, but the former Harrogate Town striker resigned in February, leaving Under-19s coach Ray Green to see out the season as caretaker manager.
Having blooded a number of the club’s promising youth players on his way to guiding Railway to safety, Green will now work alongside Gray as his number two.
“I didn’t know Ray until the end of last season when I came back to help the club out by playing the last few games, but we formed a good relationship very quickly,” Gray continued.
“He oozes passion and enthusiasm and we share a lot of the same ideas so we clicked straight away.
“I’m very happy he’s on board and I’m confident that we can do well together.”
Railway ended 2016/17 with just a handful of senior players left at Starbeck and a squad comprising mainly inexperienced teenagers, leaving Gray with a big task ahead of him as he attempts a re-building job.
“I think I’ll be spending the next two weeks on the phone talking to players,” he added.
“We’ve got a lot of promising youngsters already at the club, but I need to bring some lads in alongside them.
“I want to keep it local, however. I’m after lads who want to play for this club, not people who are only interested in picking up a brown envelope on a Saturday tea-time.
“It’s important to have the right characters here. We need to get back to basics and look to consolidate this season.
“We’re not going to be winning the league in the next few years, but I want to see us making progress rather than looking over our shoulders.”