RUGBY Town have moved quickly to fill the void left by the departure of manager Gary Mills last Friday with the appointment of the experienced non-league campaigner Dale Belford to the Butlin Road hotseat.
Belford replaces the outgoing Mills after the rookie boss tendered his resignation following a disappointing start to the season which saw Town win just one of their opening seven league games in the South Division of the Evostik NPL.
The 48 year-old’s last management role was at Conference club Tamworth, where he was in charge for 16 months and Belford will be again assisted at Rugby by Steve Farmer – who was also his right-hand man during his time at the Lamb Ground.
“Dale has great experience, and he will bring with him a good set of contacts and knowledge of the non-league pyramid as a whole,” said Valley Director Neil Melvin.
“We thank Gary for his efforts during his short time at the club, and wish him well in the future.
“He didn’t feel it was the right opportunity for him here anymore and that is disappointing, but it is better to establish that seven games into the season so we can make a fresh start with a new man in charge.
“The short term aim for Dale will of course be to steady the ship and hopefully guide us through the important F.A.Cup game next weekend. In the long term, we hope we can build a squad that can compete successfully in this division.”
Both Belford and Farmer are ex-Valley players, with goalkeeper Belford featuring for the club in the late 80s as part of a long non-league playing career, after starting at Aston Villa as a youngster.
Farmer was part of Town’s 2005-06 squad, before a bad injury ended his spell at Butlin Road, and the 35 year-old has since also held a management roles at Nuneaton Griff and Bedworth United – leading the Greenbacks to promotion from the Southern League Central Division in 2012.
Belford has also previously managed at Rugby’s current level, with a two year stint at Atherstone, and took permanent charge at Tamworth between May 2013 and September 2014 after three previous spells as caretaker manager at the club.
Mills’ assistant manager Craig Adams has also left the club, although the ex-Bedford manager did take charge of the Valley side last Saturday that progressed into the Second Qualifying Round of the F.A.Cup thanks to a 3-2 victory at NPL Premier side Ilkeston.
Melvin continued: “We would like to thank Craig for staying on to look after the team at Ilkeston, and also acknowledge the great job done by coach Dan Gibson in taking charge at Belper on Tuesday evening.”
Last Saturday’s FA Cup success handed Rugby a home tie in the next stage of the competition, with Lincoln United back at Butlin Road next weekend just three weeks on from a league match there between the two sides – which ended in a 1-1 draw.
The new manager watched the Belper victory from the stands on Tuesday, before meeting his new players after the game.
He will take his first training session on Thursday ahead of the weekend trip to Yorkshire, with Town currently just one place off the bottom of the table with five points from their opening seven matches.