NEW Rugby Town manager Gary Mills believes his experience of the non-league setup will stand him in good stead at Butlin Road.
Mills has been confirmed as the club’s new first team manager following the recent departure of Dave Stringer who had held the role for the past four years.
Valley have moved quickly to secure Mills for his first full managerial appointment, although the 33-year-old did spend ten months as assistant to the then Wrexham boss Kevin Wilkin in the Football Conference National during last season.
Town’s new man at the helm had a long and successful playing career, featuring for a number of professional and semi-professional clubs – most notably as part of the Rushden & Diamonds squad promoted to the Football League from the Conference in 2001.
He also played for Crawley, Tamworth, Kettering, Stevenage, Mansfield, Forest Green, Bath, Nuneaton, Lincoln and Boston, before ending his playing career at Kings Lynn in 2014.
And Mills is looking forward to the challenges ahead for him at his new club.
He explained: “I know the non-league scene quite well, and I think I understand what it takes to win things at this level.
“I’ve both played and watched games at Butlin Road, so I knew what a great facility it is and also the potential of the club. As soon as the manager’s position became available, I had no hesitation in applying for it, the interview process was very thorough and I’m delighted to have been offered this opportunity.
“I’ve already spoken to the majority of last season’s squad, and it looks like we have a good core of lads – but obviously I will be hoping to bring in a few fresh faces to help boost us further for next season.”
Mills is Valley’s youngest managerial appointment since Tony Dobson arrived at Butlin Road for his first spell in charge in 2001 aged just 32, and by engaging a rookie rather than an established non-league football manager, it is a rare departure from the club’s recent strategy on this front.
Despite two runners-up positions in the league’s Central Division in 2012/13 and 2013/14, Rugby remain in step four of the non-league pyramid five seasons on, and they will be hoping this change of leadership also results in a change of fortunes.
Valley chairman Brian Melvin said: “The level of applications for the position we received over the last couple of weeks has been very high, but we were particularly impressed with Gary’s credentials, attitude and philosophy.
“He appears to share the ambitions of the club and has undoubtedly built-up a wide appreciation of the demands of non-league football in his playing and coaching career to-date.”
Operations director Neil Melvin added: “We believe that Gary will fit perfectly with the club’s ethos and aspirations. He is young and energetic and we are looking forward to working closely with Gary in the coming months and beyond.
“We felt that a fresh approach was required to take the club forward, and we’re sure Gary will have a positive impact on the club – hopefully marking the start of an exciting and successful era for the Valley.”