PLAYER development will be high on the agenda for new Buckland Athletic Reserves manager Craig Hutcheson when he leads training for the first time next week.
Hutcheson’s background in youth player development first stood out to the club when he initially showed interest in a role with the Development Team.
And after the decision was made to withdraw from the South Devon Football League, the former Totnes & Dartington midfielder became a natural candidate for the soon to be vacant reserves role instead.
‘When Marc [Revell] said that Newton Spurs had been in touch, I told him that he absolutely should talk to them,’ explained Bucks director of football Adam Castle.
‘I’ve managed in England and when the opportunity comes to talk to a club at a higher level you should definitely take it.
‘Marc gave us plenty of notice, and we already had Craig on our radar after he’d enquired about the development team.
‘Everything was in place so that the transition could be as smooth as possible after the Premier Cup final.
‘Craig wants to win leagues and cups and I have no doubt that the squad he assembles will be able to achieve that.’
Hutcheson, pictured inset, had his first taste of life on the sidelines during a stint as player manager at Ipplepen Athletic.
Since then he believes his skills have come on leaps and bounds – and that the Buckland job will be a ‘perfect fit’.
‘Around six or so months ago I started thinking about getting back into club management again,’ Hutcheson explained.
‘Since I was at Ipplepen, I’ve really been able to develop my skills by working at South Devon College alongside the likes of Chris Todd and Danny Gaze.
‘Over the past three years I’ve kind-of nurtured those skills and grown the appreciate the transitions between Under-16, Under-18 and adult football.
‘I’ve also been watching Buckland grow from afar. There has been development both on and off the pitch, and the facilities are absolutely fantastic.
‘It must have come a little bit out of the blue with Marc leaving, but co-chairmen Nigel [Holmes] and John [Piller] really sold it to me.
‘As far as I’m concerned, because of my experience working with younger players it’s a pretty perfect fit.’
And as for his initial ambitions, Hutcheson added: ‘I want to be competitive and of course I want to win leagues and cups. I’m a competitive person and I want to instil that.
‘But it’s also about balance. I see this as a longer-term project where we need to be patient with some of the youth players.’
With regards to the Development Team, Castle has not ruled out the possibility of Buckland re-establishing a third squad in the future.
But for the time being at least, he believes that the chance to play higher level football elsewhere has become too attractive to make it viable.
‘Young lads have so many opportunities that a lot of them aren’t going to want to turn out in the South Devon League,’ Castle explained.
‘We haven’t “pulled” our third team, but rather withdrawn them from the SDFL with the aim of increasing the reserves’ development in the Devon Football League instead.
‘Running three teams is a slog nowadays too – but that’s not to say Buckland won’t go back to having three teams in the future. I believe we will.’
Hutcheson says he will be working closely with first team manager Paul Froude to accommodate players moving between the two teams.
With the Western League having undergone somewhat of a shake-up, Castle believes that now is the time for the first team to capitalise.
‘The movement means there will probably be a slight drop in standards for a small period of time while the new teams readjust to their surroundings,’ he said.
‘What we need to do is really make the most of that, because as soon as those teams settle they’re going to be very tough to beat.’
Hutcheson is set to take his first session with the reserves next Tuesday at Homers Heath (6.15pm), where new players will be welcome.
The first team, meanwhile, get their pre-season fixture schedule underway this afternoon when they travel to Southern League South side Willand.