Step­ping stone for Win­gate

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BYDANNYCARO

RYMANLEAGUEWin­gate & Finch­ley man­ager Michael Stone re­flected on the cam­paign as “a tricky sea­son” af­ter the blues fin­ished fifth from bot­tom in the Di­vi­sion One North fol­low­ing a 1-0 de­feat against cham­pi­ons Dart­ford on Satur­day.

The 29-year-old, who took over from Adam Lee last Septem­ber, was de­lighted with his team’s per­for­mance in front of more than 2,500 spectators.

“The boys didn’t shrink,” said Stone. “They more than held their own and came away from the game with plenty of credit.”

The Abra­hams Sta­dium club fin­ished the sea­son in 18th place on 35 points af­ter win­ning eight games.

In his first job in foot­ball man­age­ment, Stone ad­mits “it has been very much a learn­ing curve and a very chal­leng­ing test with a young squad and the change in man­age­ment dur­ing the sea­son. Most man­agers will tell you that they need a full sum­mer un­der their belts to pre­pare prop­erly and that the first cou­ple of years are the tough­est.

“I be­lieve it could take up to three years for the team to com­pete at the top of the ta­ble as we don’t want to stretch our­selves fi­nan­cially.

“One of the fea­tures of hav­ing a young squad is that con­fi­dence can dip very quickly with a run of bad re­sults and back-to-back de­feats. I plan to bring in some ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers from a higher level to help the young­sters flour­ish next sea­son.”

Stone has been pleased with the progress of the Jewish con­tin­gent in the first team and re­serves.

“Craig El­lis has had a mixed sea­son as it’s been stop-start due to nig­gling in­juries and sus­pen­sions. When he’s played he’s done well. I was de­lighted that we re-signed Dean Ny­man who, along with Craig is keen to get a good pre-sea­son un­der his belt.” James Ger­sh­field joined the club af­ter im­press­ing in Rome last sum­mer. Stone said: “I’m de­lighted with his abil­ity to lis­ten and learn. He’s re­ally pro­gressed. Danny Berg has stayed in the squad and per­formed well when called upon while Daniel Stan­ton, Ben Lauf­fer, Andy Glynne, Jamie Shaw and Dan Cole are good ad­di­tions to the club.

“We have started to gather a crop of Jewish play­ers who want to make a go of it at this level. Main­tain­ing a Jewish iden­tity re­mains an in­ter­gral part of this club and will con­tinue to do so while I’m in charge.”

Stone, who coached Team Eng­land at last sum­mer’s Euro­pean Mac­cabi Games in Rome and un­til his ap­point­ment was Lee’s as­sis­tant, re­it­er­ated his goals when he took charge. “My main ob­jec­tives were to help the club re­tain its sta­tus in the Ry­man League Di­vi­sion One North and then build to see if we can get to the next level.”

With a June wed­ding his im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity, Stone was sur­prised by the dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties needed when turn­ing from coach to man­ager. “I used to just be re­spon­si­ble for train­ing ses­sions at set times. Now I have learnt the need to sep­a­rate my­self more from the play­ing squad and how to man­age a staff and a bud­get, along with re­port­ing to the board. I’ve built a very good coach­ing set-up in­clud­ing a goal­keep­ing coach and sports an­a­lyst.

“The hard­est thing is that you wear the re­sults on your shoul­ders and are con­stantly think­ing of ways of do­ing things bet­ter and where you want to take things. I’m en­joy­ing it and be­lieve I’ll be bet­ter for it next term.” Look­ing ahead to sea­son 2008/09, Stone s a i d : “ W e want to push for a midtable fin­ish a n d h o p e for a bet­ter run in the cups.” The c l ub have l i n e d u p their first pre­sea­son fix­ture at home to Barnet first team on July 29.

Win­gate this week an­nounced that, as part of their resur­gence as one of the coun­try’s top de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues, they have in­tro­duced a schol­ar­ship en­ti­tled FLEX (Foot­ball Learn­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence) from Septem­ber 2008. This will see Win­gate take on 35 schol­ars who will train full time whilst con­tin­u­ing their for­mal ed­u­ca­tion with the Club’s aca­demic part­ner, Barnet Col­lege. The schol­ars will rep­re­sent the club in the Con­fer­ence Youth Foot­ball League and also par­tic­i­pate in the FA Youth Cup and Ry­man League Youth Cup.

Un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of a flour­ish­ing youth sys­tem, Hadley Wood and Win­gate youth club will be fur­ther de­vel­oped next sea­son with the Un­der 14 and Un­der 16 teams be­com­ing part of the semi-pro club. The teams will be en­tered into the East­ern Al­liance Foot­ball League to com­pete with Cen­tres of Ex­cel­lence of pro­fes­sional and Con­fer­ence level clubs in­clud­ing Da­gen­ham and Red­bridge and Steve­nage Bor­ough.

For de­tails about the schol­ar­ship tri­als on May 10, con­tact Richard Marchena on 07817 884 572. For tri­als for the club’s Un­der 14 and 16 teams on May 5, call Keith Gar­ber on 07702

022 065.

Proud: Michael Stone

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