Wingate & Finchley boss wants his experienced recruits to pass on their experience to the youngsters

Keith Rowland wants Wingate & Finchley’s wise old heads to play their part in bringing on more youngsters at the Maurice Rebak Stadium this season.

The Blues manager has added a cluster of experienced signings to his squad over the summer – goalkeeper Shane Gore, midfielder Steve Wales and centre-back Sean Cronin.

And former Northern Ireland international Rowland is looking to his new recruits to help instil good habits in the dressing-room, following the kind of example set by senior players during his own playing career.

“These lads will benefit us in the longer term,” said Rowland as Wingate prepare to kick off their Ryman League Premier Division campaign on Saturday.

“They’ve come in and they’re going to play their own individual games but I’m going to ask them to do a little more than that.


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“They need to be good in training and show the younger lads how to do things. A club can’t be run on 17, 18 or 19-year-olds – they’re too up and down, unpredictable and you need a bit of experience with youth.

“I was at Bournemouth when Kevin Bond was coming towards the end of his career. Luther Blissett was there and Jimmy Case – who had won European Cups. You can’t fail to learn from people like that.

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“Then at West Ham there were people like Alvin Martin and Tony Cottee. The game was different in those days but, even off the pitch, players of that type rub off on the younger lads.”

Rowland, who was assistant manager at Braintree before replacing Simon Lane as Blues boss midway through last season, readily admits his first few months with Wingate could have gone better as the team slid out of play-off contention, eventually finishing just below halfway in the table.

“There was a little bit of upheaval and I didn’t particularly enjoy it,” said Rowland. “It was my first go at it and I wanted to do the job well but there were just a few things that weren’t right.

“I’ve ironed a few bits and pieces out over the summer and I’m actually enjoying it now – we don’t get paid enough not to! It’s a tidy club, the pitch is lovely and I want the players to enjoy it as well.

“All I want them to do is work hard and all the other things will fit in. Every team I’ve ever been with

have had a work ethic and I think I’m slowly bringing that into the group.

“I want the players to be aggressive, to be fit and to do well enough to the point where I find it hard to hold onto them. If other teams chase after them, it means I’m doing a good job.

“Position-wise, it would be nice to finish in the top 10. All I’m trying to do as manager, along with my assistant manager and my chairman, is steer the club to a good position and a solid foundation.”

Wingate begin their campaign away to last year’s beaten play-off semi-finalists Tonbridge Angels on Saturday (3pm) before hosting Billericay Town on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).

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