NEW ROYTON Town boss Ian Hulme hopes to push them on to league glory this season after stepping up to give his friend a break.
Mark Howard decided he wanted to step away from football after a heartbreaking end to the last Manchester League Premier Division campaign, which saw them tail off after being in contention until the final stages.
So his number two and big pal Hulme landed the role after presenting what he wants to do to club bosses.
And number one on his list is winning the league.
Ian said: “We went into the last month of last season in with a shout of winning the league and in a semi-final of the cup and ended up missing out.
“With this group and the new additions we should be challenging again for all honours as I think the reserves will to.
“I assisted Mark Howard over the last few years both at Royton and at Chadderton FC.
“When he decided to take a break from the game at the end of last season, I spoke to the committee and told them my thoughts on how I wanted the club to operate and how they wanted it to look.
“We all agreed in principle on a plan to move it forward. We had worked very hard to get the club back on track about 18 months ago, when we had barely one senior team.
“With a lot of work, especially from the committee and Mark, we came out with two senior teams and seven youth teams under the Royton Town banner which is something we are all extremely proud of.
“I have to say at this point Mark thoroughly deserves his break after 20 years and leaves this club in a greater position then when he came back in.”
Ian is steeped in Royton Town history after having played for them on and off for over 20 years, including being part of both the club’s first ever league title in the Lancashire Amateur League and the double winning team in the Manchester League Premier Division.
Starts do not come much tougher as they must play their first six matches away from home because of work being done at their Oldham Academy North base, three of which are local derbies.
Town have received a welcome financial boost after agreeing sponsorship deals with Monarch Metals, whose name will be on the club’s tracksuits.
Ian has already started to implement changes, with all teams now training together and he is not afraid to promote young players.
But even though he was involved in the management side, stepping up to the top job has been an eye opener.
Ian added: “To be able to try and win something as a manager would mean the world to me.
“But it’s been a bit of whirlwind. I am used to just concentrating on the first team and football but there is so much to do off the pitch in terms of recruitment, administration, sponsors – the list goes on.
“The first thing I had to do was find an new assistant manager which I have in the form of Paul Ashton, who came through at Royton as a teenager and went on to captain the likes of Trafford and play in the higher levels of semi pro football.
“He has good knowledge of the club and its fabric and wants to play the same way I do.
“When I met the committee we decided the best way forward was to concentrate on players who wanted and were able to commit to playing week in week out.
“I held a players’ meeting to put that across and get their feedback and thoughts and the list of players started to grow from that meeting with several players returning to the club and I’m more than happy with our squad.
“We have an excellent youth team set up and our reserves had a fantastic first year last year under Paul Gidley, which consisted of eight teenagers predominantly 16 and 17-year-olds who graduated from the Under-16s, of that set of players four made first team appearances last year.
“The main thing I’ve changed is the whole group now trains together, which enables us to engage the younger players with our more established and experienced players which helps their development and keeps the senior boys on their toes.
“This group will be the future of our club for hopefully years to come so I am keen to promote and give opportunities to as many as I can when the time is right.”