Haverhill Rovers player-manager Marc Abbott delighted with first two signings of the summer
There is a real buzz engulfing Haverhill Rovers following the recent arrivals of Jonny Butler and Jacob Joseph.
The duo – well known to player-manager Marc Abbott from his stint in charge of higher-league St Neots Town – are the first summer additions at The New Croft, with the boss delighted to have both on board for 2020/21.
Butler, 27, has come in as a player-assistant to Abbott, and is set to provide plenty of experience from spells at Steps 3 and 4 with the likes of Harlow Town, Arlesey Town and St Albans.
Abbott was particularly pleased to have secured the midfielder’s services given the amount of higher-league competition for his signature.
“He’s been promoted with Harlow and played for some very competitive teams at Steps 3 and 4,” said Abbott.
“He was still getting calls from clubs at Step 4 the day before we announced he had joined us – that shows how good he is.
“The financial side of things was not too important for him, he wanted the right club, one that is run properly and can offer the whole package; we believe we can do that.
“He’s a first-class leader. At St Neots I saw that in training, in the dressing room and out on the pitch.
“Jonny has a strong personality and demands the best from his team-mates. I was massively impressed with his attitude and the way that he carries himself.
“It is an attitude that rubs off on people and it will be particularly great for our younger players.”
The move to Haverhill represents Butler’s first significant step into the world of coaching.
And Abbott is confident he has the ‘right personality’ to be an asset off the pitch, as well as on it.
Abbott said: “Jonny has the right personality for coaching and we spoke a little while ago about what he wanted to do.
“I told him about our first-class facilities, the fact that we train where we play, and asked him to come and join us.
“We can help him take his first steps into coaching and he can help us with what he will provide on the pitch. His opinion in terms of tactics and things like that will also be highly valued.”
While Butler is well established at a higher level, fellow new recruit Joseph is a young attacker full of potential.
He gained some Step 4 experience last term with St Neots, while he also had one outing for Haverhill to aid his recovery from injury. And he marked it by finding the back of the net against Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division leaders Stowmarket Town.
Joseph has aspirations to play as high as he possibly can, and Abbott believes Rovers can provide him with the perfect platform.
“JJ is a very talented youngster, one of the most talented that is not at a professional club for probably a 30 or 40-mile radius,” he said.
“He’s played under some good managers at St Neots and learned a lot during that time.
“What I really like about him is the fact that despite all of the talent he has, he is always hungry to improve.
“He wants to play and Neots couldn’t perhaps give him the game time he wants, but he will get that here. He wants to play at the highest level he can and hopefully we can help him to do that.
“We are always aspiring to be a better club and I think we have the sort of environment that he can improve in.
“It is down to us to help him get to where he wants to be. Long term, can we get to Step 4 at hold on to players like him? That is what we want.”
From a personal perspective, the ongoing Covid-19 enforced break from non-league football is allowing Abbott to continue shaping his squad.
He only returned to the club in December last year from St Neots and believes the addition of players like Butler and Joseph is a result of his time with the Cambridgeshire-based side.
“As a package, this is the best it has been at Haverhill for a long time,” said Abbott, who is hoping to have another new signing to announce within the next fortnight.
“We’ve been able to recruit two quality players when normally we are losing them or they are training with other clubs and end up joining them.
“I think part of that is down to my time at St Neots – that was valuable. I learned a lot and made contacts in a different area which has come good for us.
“These two signings are massive for the club and the local lads are getting better and better as well.”
Abbott also added a number of last season’s squad – including Alfie Carroll, Perry Moody, Ryan Gibbs, Ben Bradley, Ryan Gibbs, Reiss Oteng, Henry Hall and James Philp – have all verbally agreed to remain with the club.
And as well as two fresh faces, Rovers will also be wearing a new kit next season. The Adidas Tiro strip will once again be sponsored by Haverhill-based IFF.