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Long-serving Harleston Town player Nathan Russell explains decision to take on coaching role at Kirkley & Pakefield

Departing Harleston Town attacker Nathan Russell said his move to a player-assistant manager role at Kirkley & Pakefield was the right opportunity for him to develop as a coach.

The long-serving Magpies stalwart made more than 200 appearances for the club across an eight-year spell, but hailed the set-up at the Recreation Ground as he made the switch to the fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division outfit last week.

The 28-year-old, who earned his Level 1 and Level 2 coaching badges with Norwich City under-7s to 16s, will team up with Kirkley manager, and friend, Ross Kilfedder as they look to build on a second-from-bottom finish in the upcoming campaign.

Nathan Russell (left) has left Harleston Town after making more than 200 appearances Picture: Mark Bullimore
Nathan Russell (left) has left Harleston Town after making more than 200 appearances Picture: Mark Bullimore

“It was a nice opportunity for me to get into that side of management and see how I go,” said Russell.

“It wasn’t anything to do with Harleston, anything to do with any negativity, for me it was the right time and right opportunity to give it a go and see where it goes from there.

“There are not many clubs where I’m going to be able to do this at Thurlow Prem (level) at the moment. I’m hopefully going to be taking a lot on board from Danny (Crow) (Harleston Town boss) and from those coaching me this year, and previous managers that I’ve been playing under.”

Russell, who is aiming to complete his UEFA coaching badges in the future, was introduced into the fold at Harleston as a 20-year-old in the Fosters Solicitors Anglian Combination Premier Division 2016/17 season – and he shone with 27 goals in 32 appearances.

The following term saw him revel with the Magpies in a title-winning campaign before they achieved a historic promotion to the Premier Division via the First Division North play-offs in 2021/22 – which Russell highlighted as the standout season from his time at the Recreation Ground.

“That was a nice memory because it put the club at its highest point that it has ever been, which was great and lovely to be a part of, and to support the club,” he added.

“I’ve absolutely loved it (time at Harleston). It’s been the best club that I’ve played for, by far. It’s been the most enjoyable. From where the club originally was, how people brought the club up, bringing players in, Adam Mullin’s (chairman) support has had a massive influence on the club and where it’s at now.

“There’s a real close-knit group. It hasn’t changed a horrendous amount over the past five years as well.

“You know what you’re getting with every player, the standard of football is unbelievable, through training and into games. You didn’t have any groups within the club, everyone was a group and a tight, close family which I really, really loved.”

In a season that boss Crow deemed ‘a failure’, Russell featured 35 times last campaign as Harleston finished sixth, just four points off the play-off places – but he strongly believes the Magpies will end the upcoming season higher in the table.

“We just missed out this year, we had a few injuries towards the back-end of the season. We didn’t really have the numbers to come off the bench to support what we needed at times,” said Russell.

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