Phil Barnes and Dean Elston.

Tigers legend Phil ready to step up as manager

After more than 30 years of being in and around Holbeach United, Phil Barnes is now ready to step up to the top job.

The 47-year-old, who first joined the club as a player aged 11, was named as the new first team manager at Carter’s Park on Thursday.

He and assistant Dean Elston will replace Danny Hussey in the Tigers’ hot seat whenever the next campaign begins after the pair spent three seasons managing Holbeach United Reserves.

Phil Barnes

First team coach Tim Cole will be continuing his role, while Phil’s brother Steve, who announced his retirement from football recently, will be joint-managing the Tigers’ reserves alongside Neil Collishaw.

New boss Barnes is hoping to build on his predecessor’s successes when football finally resumes after the COVID-19 crisis ended the Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division season with the Tigers in fifth.

“Myself and Dean will go into every single game wanting to win and we want to finish as high as possible,” the former UCL Premier Division title winner said. “I’ve no idea when that first game as a manager will come around, but I know we’ll be looking to win it and I’m looking forward to it.

“Danny has done a cracking job and I’m not looking to break up the squad. We want to keep them all together if we can.

“We want to build on what Danny’s achieved while keeping the whole club moving forward.

“We will maybe look to bring in a couple of new faces eventually but we won’t be even looking to do that until I’ve spoken personally to the current squad.

“I’d like to do that first before bringing anyone in.”

Phil has carried out a whole host of roles within the club. He previously coached within the first team set-up, managed several youth sides while his son was involved and has previously been the chair of the Tigers’ youth academy.

“It’s a family club with lots of talent throughout a whole host of age groups and the academy is going from strength to strength.

“Hopefully the community spirit keeps going and we can continue to bring a few of the youth players through.

“It’s a strange time and I don’t know when I’ll be even able to see my players.

“I’m still really excited though and hopefully we’ll be back to normality and playing football soon.”

Veteran defender Elston, who was number two to John Chand when Holbeach last won the league back in 2013, echoed those sentiments.

Having joined the club at 16 years of age, he also wants to help give younger players the same chance he was afforded.

“We’re not looking to make huge changes,” admitted Elston, who is hugely respected in local circles. “We’re hoping to work with the same team and possibly give the youth more opportunities to progress.

“We’ll be doing that while trying to win every game we play. There’s a lot of excellent players in the club.

“I just want to help Phil as I’ve always been a number two and I’ve made no secret that I don’t want the main job.

“I like to be there to help when I can and offer advice.”

Meanwhile, the decision to null and void the football season for teams based in steps 3-7 of the non-league pyramid was ratified on Thursday – despite more than 100 teams officially contesting the move.

The request to end the 2019/20 season was taken to The FA Council by the representatives of the relevant committees having been fully supported by The FA Board.

The FA Council’s vote was overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying the decision.

That means that all of South Holland’s football teams have officially kicked their last ball this campaign, with the BetVictor NPL (Spalding United), Uhlsport UCL (Holbeach United and Pinchbeck United), ChromaSport PDFL and Boston Saturday League among the divisions covered by the decision.

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