COLIN MILLARD arrived at Farnham Town this week to take over in the manager’s hot seat – and learned very quickly what is expected of him.
Town missed out on promotion to the premier division of the Combined Counties League only because the season was declared void soon after the outbreak of the pandemic.
And a repeat of that campaign – especially as the likelihood seems to be most of last season’s players will be remaining at the Memorial Ground – is the minimum expectation.
Millard comes very highly rated – he has enjoyed a good career in the coaching side of the game after his own playing ambitions were cruelly cut short by injury as a teenager when he was on Reading’s books.
“I met the players for the first time at the weekend and I told them I wanted them to forget last season,” he said.
“It could be a big negative for them – they should have won promotion, everyone knows that, but they got nothing for it.
“So for us, last season did not happen and we start again. The only thing we can get from it is the experience of playing against the teams in the league.
“But based on the evidence of the season that didn’t happen, theoretically we are good enough. The aim is to get promoted and I’m happy with that.”
When former boss Luke Turkington left he told the players they would be welcome if they wanted to follow him to Alresford.
“After speaking to the players, it seems most of them want to stay. We hope that’s the case – everyone was really positive and the aim is to keep everyone together and maybe add one or two to help us get over the line next season,” said Millard.
“I’m excited by the challenge and what the club is aiming to do. I’ve been out of the game for a while and I wouldn’t have come back if it wasn’t something I could get my teeth into and get excited by.
“Farnham’s aims are almost identical to mine. It seemed the perfect match.
“There’s no guarantees of anything – this is football – but on paper it does seem to be a good match. We have just got to put it into action on the pitch.
“The club have made it clear they want to climb two steps up the pyramid in as short a time as possible. With the plans they have for the ground, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be possible.
“I’ll be looking for Step 4 football – that’s what we are aiming for. As plans for next season develop, we’re not thinking about Step 6 football, we’re thinking already about Step 5 and what players within the group are capable of doing that.
“Short term it’s about getting out of this division into Step 5, re-evaluate and then go again and try to get promotion out of that league as quickly as possible.”
Millard was on Reading’s books until he was 18.
He was badly injured and took two years to recover, and then signed as a player for Basingstoke Town. He was injured after three games and manager Ernie Howe asked him to do some coaching for the community scheme.
“I was only 20, and stayed in coaching from that point. I worked for ten years with Reading Town, who were in the Combined Counties and Hellenic Premier, and then went to Thatcham Town, which was Step 4 football in the Southern League.
“I came out of the game and started my own business, and did some work with several professional academies.”
With Millard’s experience with younger players, don’t be surprised if the accent is on youth in the future – the new manager’s philosophy is if they’re good enough, they’re old enough.
“Young players are the lifeblood of any club,” he said. “If you have a talent, no matter how old he is, he should be given the opportunity to showcase himself.
“If we find people within the club who are capable of playing Step 5 or Step 4, whatever it may be, they’ll be given an opportunity and then it will down to them to stay in the team.
“For me, coming into the club now, without knowing when next season will start, isn’t ideal, but it’s the same for everyone.
“We’ll get some light training sessions in, and hope we get some information soon from the Football Association about when we can start training in full.”