Eastwood excited by the challenge at Victoria Park

Photo Neil Cross
Bamber Bridge FC v Halifax Town in the UniBond First Division North
Phil Eastwood slides in
Photo Neil Cross Bamber Bridge FC v Halifax Town in the UniBond First Division North Phil Eastwood slides in

New Nelson boss Phil Eastwood admits he was attracted to the role by chairman Fayyaz Ahmed’s vision for the club.

Eastwood was appointed earlier this month as Paul Fildes’ successor, bringing Jerome Fitzgerald with him as his his assistant and fellow former Claret Gerry Harrison as first team coach.

With only the champions promoted from the North West Counties League Premier Division, Eastwood is loathe to make any bold declarations, but he is in it for the long haul, to ultimately try and emulate derby rivals Colne’s title success.

He said: “What attracted me to the job was the chairman’s vision of what he wants to achieve.

“There is a new stand going up behind the goal, ideas for a new clubhouse, and they are trrying to build something here, which is along my way of thinking.

“I want to try and build something that can move forward.

“Promotion is the target, but we have to be realistic in that we need to build the foundations this season, have a right good go and look to build for the future.”

Nelson have been back in the Premier Division for two seasons after winning the First Division title under Mark Fell in 2014, finishing 11th and 16th, and Eastwood is looking to get things going back in the right direction again: “It took Colne a couple of years, so we can’t promise anything this year, there are no play-offs – you can’t finish fifth and still be promoted.

“The league is one of the hardest to get out of, so it’s a tough ask, but we’ll have a go and try and get together a competitive side, play the right way and work hard. You shouldn’t be playing if you don’t want to win the league, but we want to put something in place for the next few years, to progress.

“We are realistic – it could take 12/18 months, a couple of years, to get where we want to be.

“This is something I wanted, to be a number one, and I’ve waited for the right job to come along.

“I don’t want to be a manager just to exist, win some, lose some – I know that’s football, but I wanted a club with aspirations to push on, and we have that here.”

The Blues return to pre-season training on Tuesday, with their first warm-up game against Hyde on July 9th, and Eastwood intends to look at what he has available, in terms of personnel, before deciding where to make additions: “I’ve spoken to a few lads, and hopefully they will come in, but we’ll have a look at what we’ve got first and fill in any gaps where we feel we need to strengthen.”