New Wingate boss is keen to Meak his mark

Wingate & Finchley have appointed Gary Meakin as their new manager following David Norman’s resignation – and the new Blues boss says he jumped at the chance to take over a Premier Division club.

Meakin arrived from Southern League outfit Northwood last week and will take charge of his first Wingate game on Saturday – a home clash against East Thurrock.

Having started out on QPR’s books, Meakin’s playing career ended due to injury in 2010, and he moved into coaching and management with Hillingdon Borough before switching to Northwood.

Now the 28-year-old has taken a step up the ladder, grabbing the helm at Wingate in the Ryman Premier Division – and he is keen to make the most of the opportunity.

“My personal ambitions are to be a football manager, so the prospect of managing in the league above was an exciting one – but not just anywhere, it had to be right,” Meakin told Ham&High Sport.

“I live in Northolt so the travelling was okay, the pitch is fantastic and from the outside the club is run well – Aron Sharpe [the chairman] just confirmed that when I spoke to him.

“They want to go places. They’re not going to go mad to go places, but they want to progress, which is what I want to do. It just seems a good club to be at.

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“The short-term ambition is to keep them where they are. I think they finished 13th last year so 12th will do – that’s progression.

“I think they’re six or seven points off the play-offs so you could say that’s an ambition, but they’re also six or seven points off the relegation zone so it’s too early to say what we can do.

“Mid-table would be fine, as a minimum, and next year I want to be pushing towards the play-offs.

“I’m not saying we’re going to get into the play-offs, but I want to at least go into the last third of the season with a realistic opportunity of looking that way, rather than getting past Christmas and saying ‘well we’re not going to go up and we’re not going to go down so what is there to play for?’.”

Wingate have signed midfielder Scott Shulton from Hendon this week, but Meakin has no immediate plans to overhaul his new squad.

“I need to assess what’s there, I’m not going to change too much,” he said. “I owe it to the players to see what’s there, see what they’re all about and give them a chance to earn the shirt.

“Not everyone’s sad that a manager leaves – those who weren’t really playing and getting an opportunity are probably glad.

“It’s their chance to say ‘I am good enough and I’ll get a fresh start with a new manager’, and those who were playing have now got to work hard again and say ‘well I’d better stay in the side’.

“That all starts on Saturday and they’ll have four weeks to cement their place or earn a new chance.

“Naturally I’ll be looking to bring in two or three players to freshen it up, to keep them on their toes, but there won’t be a major overhaul or anything like that. It’s not needed, they’ve got some good boys down there.”

Meakin intends to spend some of his free time scouting his new opponents in the Premier Division – but he is already familiar with most of his rivals.

“I only stopped playing two and half years ago and I was playing with Harrow Borough and Hendon, so it is the league I know,” he said.

“It has changed in the last couple of years, but three-quarters of it is still the league I know. I’ll be reminding myself of it in the next few weeks, I’ll make I try to see everyone at least once.”