The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - BY MATT BAD­COCK

MARK STIMSON knows he’s got big shoes to fill at AFC Hornchurch af­ter leav­ing Waltham Abbey to take over from long-serv­ing man­ager Jimmy McFar­lane – but the ex-Grays boss says he couldn’t say no to the chance.

McFar­lane re­signed af­ter more than ten years at the Urchins as a player, as­sis­tant to Colin McBride and even­tu­ally man­ager in 2009.

He guided the club to the Con­fer­ence South through the Ry­man Premier play-offs in 2012 and last sea­son they re­turned to Step 3 by win­ning the Bostik North.

The pop­u­lar man­ager suf­fered with ill­ness dur­ing the 2017-18 cam­paign but was on the ter­races to see them clinch the ti­tle.

But fol­low­ing last week’s de­feat to Haringey Bor­ough leav­ing them 17th in the ta­ble, the club re­luc­tantly ac­cepted his res­ig­na­tion. They moved swiftly to ap­point Stimson, who had Waltham Abbey fifth in Bostik South Cen­tral but says he had to take the open­ing at Step 3.

“I en­joyed my time at Waltham Abbey,” Stimson told The NLP. “We started the sea­son fan­tas­ti­cally well and to be in fifth place, I was happy with that and hop­ing to kick on. But when Hornchurch came in and I spoke to the chair­man and the owner with their am­bi­tion, it was too good a job to turn down.

“I lived in Hornchurch for 24 years and only moved out just up the road in March! So I know the club, know a lot of people and the club, had loads of games against them.

“Then ob­vi­ously know­ing Jimmy as well – what a great guy Jimmy is. I spoke to him yes­ter­day and I’ve said to him any time he wants to come into the club, just feel free to walk in the of­fice be­cause what he’s done there is fan­tas­tic.

“I’m just go­ing to try to carry that on, tweak it a lit­tle bit, not too much, be­cause there’s some good play­ers there and we’ve got to just get them go­ing again.”

De­spite their po­si­tion in the ta­ble, the Urchins had lost just five games ahead of yes­ter­day’s trip to White­hawk with eight draws ham­per­ing their progress.

Stimson says he will give his new squad a clean slate but didn’t rule out re­turn­ing to his for­mer club for re­in­force­ments.

“I’ve had a lot of play­ers with me for five or six years and every­one will prob­a­bly ex­pect straight­away it will be this one, that one, this one,” Stimson, who took the now-de­funct Thur­rock to Step 3 in 2016-17.

“But I’m go­ing to have a look at the Hornchurch boys and give them a fair crack be­cause they got them into the Bostik Prem.

“I’m hon­est, I’m not go­ing to lie, there prob­a­bly will be a cou­ple but that will take time and if it’s right then we’ll do it.”

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