REPLACING JIMMY IS NOT SO STIM-PLE
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.”