RUGBY TOWN: New manager announced

New manager Gary Mills is welcomed by Town's operations director Neil Melvin
New manager Gary Mills is welcomed by Town's operations director Neil Melvin

First full managerial role for 33-year-old

Rugby Town have appointed Gary Mills as their new first team manager, following the recent departure of Dave Stringer from the role he had held for four years, writes Jon Venner.

I’ve both played and watched games at Butlin Road, so I knew what a great facility it is and also the potential of the club

Rugby Town’s new manager Gary Mills

Valley have moved quickly to secure Mills for his first full managerial appointment, although the 33 year old did spend ten months as assistant to the then Wrexham boss Kevin Wilkin in the Football Conference National during the 2014/15 season.

Town’s new man at the helm had a long and successful playing career, featuring for a number of professional and semi-professional clubs – most notably as part of the Rushden & Diamonds squad promoted to the Football League from the Conference in 2001.

He also played for Crawley, Tamworth, Kettering, Stevenage, Mansfield, Forest Green, Bath, Nuneaton, Lincoln and Boston, before ending his playing career at Kings Lynn in 2014.

He joined up with Wilkin at the Racecourse Ground that summer and was part of a management team that took the Welsh side to the FA Trophy final at Wembley and also an FA Cup third round tie at Premier League Stoke City.

However Wilkin was relieved of his duties after they lost that final on penalties to North Ferriby, with Mills then also choosing to leave the club the day after.

Valley Chairman Brian Melvin welcomed the new manager to Butlin Road. He said: “The level of applications for the position we received over the last couple of weeks has been very high, but we were particularly impressed with Gary’s credentials, attitude and philosophy.

“He appears to share the ambitions of the club and has undoubtedly built-up a wide appreciation of the demands of non-league football in his playing and coaching career to-date.

Operations Director Neil Melvin added: “We believe that Gary will fit perfectly with the club’s ethos and aspirations. He is young and energetic and we are looking forward to working closely with Gary in the coming months and beyond.

“We felt that a fresh approach was required to take the club forward, and we’re sure Gary will have a positive impact on the club - hopefully marking the start of an exciting and successful era for the Valley”

Mills was looking forward to the challenges ahead for him at his new club. He explained: “I know the non-league scene quite well, and I think I understand what it takes to win things at this level.

“I’ve both played and watched games at Butlin Road, so I knew what a great facility it is and also the potential of the club. As soon as the manager’s position became available, I had no hesitation in applying for it, the interview process was very thorough and I’m delighted to have been offered this opportunity.

“I’ve already spoken to the majority of last season’s squad, and it looks like we have a good core of lads – but obviously I will be hoping to bring in a few fresh faces to help boost us further for next season.”

Mills is Valley’s youngest managerial appointment since Tony Dobson arrived at Butlin Road for his first spell in charge in 2001 aged just 32, and by engaging a rookie rather than an established non-league football manager, it is a rare departure from the club’s recent strategy on this front.

Since that original Dobson appointment, only Lee Colkin (in 2009) has tasted his first managerial role at the club. Colkin’s reign was brief though, as he was unable to prevent Town’s relegation from the Southern League Premier Division.

Despite two runners-up positions in the league’s Central Division in 2012/13 and 2013/14, Rugby remain in step four of the non-league pyramid five seasons on, and they will be hoping this change of leadership also results in a change of fortunes.