Joint manager Nicky Howell enjoys his first season in charge of Harleston Town
It was tougher than he imagined, but Nicky Howell nevertheless enjoyed his first season in joint charge of Harleston Town.
Along with team-mate Nathan Stone, Howell was handed the reins last summer after their club were relegated back to the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Premier Division by the Football Association due to ground grading issues.
Results have been up and down, with Harleston sitting third when the coronavirus pandemic called a halt to the 2019/20 campaign.
However, despite those inconsistencies, it has been a positive experience for the rookie boss.
“We were viewed as being one of the favourites at the start of the season and that sort of expectation made it tough. Everyone expected us to do well,” said Howell.
“We didn’t get off to the best of starts and it took us a little while to find our rhythm.
“There was a really good spell around Christmas and then just before the season stopped we were inconsistent again.
“But I have really enjoyed it and I have learned a lot. There is more to do than you realise, especially with the time and commitment you have to give.
“It took a while to adapt, but I have really enjoyed moving into management.
“The plan was always for Nathan to play and me to be on the touchline more. He still chips in and it has worked well between us.”
For Howell and Stone, the transition from being players to forming a management team could have been tricky.
They moved into a position where they had to drop players that were team-mates, as well as having to adopt a playing style and tactics.
Yet the attitude shown by the playing squad made the switch relatively straightforward.
“The lads have been brilliant – I knew they would be,” added Howell.
“They have respected the decisions we have made and taken on board what has been said.
“It could have been difficult to stamp our mark on things but hopefully that hasn’t been the case.
“I like to think I am open and honest with the players, and they have been the same with me.”
With a start date for 2020/21 currently uncertain, Howell has not made any major plans.
However, he will be looking to start discussions over the coming weeks to ensure that Harleston are ready for whenever football is able to return.
“We have left things at the moment,” he said.
“There has not been too much contact with the lads because it is difficult to plan when you don’t know if the season will start on time.
“I have been thinking through a few things though and over the coming weeks Nathan and I will start talking with the chairman about our plans. It is a tricky time but it is the same for everyone.”
More by this authorLiam Apicella