Western Morning News

Ferguson-Smith ‘privileged’ to be new manager of St Austell

- BY LEE HALL lee.hall@reachplc.com

MARK Ferguson-Smith has revealed it will be a ‘privilege’ to manage St Austell – a post he believes to be the best in Cornish football – following his appointmen­t as first-team manager.

The Lillywhite­s confirmed the appointmen­t of the 31-year-old as first-team boss on Friday following Chris Knight’s decision to stand down last month.

Ferguson-Smith was the Poltair Park club’s reserve team manager for four seasons, where he guided them to a league and cup treble last year, winning the East Cornwwall Premier League, League Cup and Evely Cup.

They were on course to win the newly-formed St Piran League East division this season – they were eight points clear – before the 2019-20 campaign was declared null and void following the coronaviru­s outbreak.

Following his success for the club’s second string, FergusonSm­ith is looking forward to his next challenge with his hometown club. He will be assisted by Steve Wheatley.

The club also confirmed that Phil

Dingle will remain on the firstteam coaching staff, along with player-coach Jason Chapman.

He said: “In the current circumstan­ces, it’s very difficult to be excited about starting the role.

“But since I started management this role has always been my ambition as it’s my local club and having managed the reserve team in my only other management post, it was an obvious progressio­n for me.

“I feel privileged to be appointed to a post which I deem to be the best in Cornish football and I’m also delighted to be taking it on with one of my good friends and assistant of the past four seasons Steve Wheatley.

A statement released by the club on Friday read: “Everyone at the club would like to thank Mark for his continuing contributi­on to our club. As a club we are extremely excited about this appointmen­t and know that Mark’s ethos and values 100 per-cent match the club’s.”

Ferguson-Smith says he’s excited at the prospect of taking charge of the first-team into the South West Peninsula League next season, where he says he will continue to work under the same ethos of allowing players to step up from the reserve to first-team.

And having enjoyed year-onyear improvemen­t with the reserve team, Ferguson-Smith hopes to emulate that success and challenge for honours with the first-team next season. The Lillywhite­s were second in the Premier West table before the season was brought to an end following the Covid-19 pandemic last month.

Ferguson-Smith said: “When I took on the post as reserve team manager, the club were great as they put no pressure on me or the team to achieve results in the ECPL, which gave me the opportunit­y to build a young side and instil my playing philosophy.

“After a creditable sixth place finish we improved year-on-year to be runners-up in league and cup in 17-18 and then secured a treble of ECPL league and League Cup and Evely Cup in 18-19.

“We were then on track for more trophies in the St Piran league East Division last season as we were eight points clear and in the League Cup semi-final before the season was deemed null and void.

The statement highlighte­d: “We have also allowed a number of young players to progress into the first-team squad and this will be a recurring theme.”

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