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Haverhill Rovers chairman Ali Shulver looking for someone to awaken a 'sleeping giant' followed surprise exit of Marc Abbott



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Haverhill Rovers chairman Ali Shulver admitted Marc Abbott’s resignation came as a shock but believes the first-team managerial vacancy represents an exciting opportunity to now awaken a ‘sleeping giant’.

Abbott went public on the news on his Twitter account on Saturday morning, saying he needed to ‘re-energise’, meaning the credible 1-1 home draw with high-flying Wroxham was the player-boss’ swansong.

But he leaves his second spell in charge – having returned to The New Croft in December 2019 from St Neots Town – with Rovers languishing second from bottom of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table.

Marc Abbott has vacated his role as player-manager at Haverhill Rovers after a challenging start to the season Picture: Mecha Morton
Marc Abbott has vacated his role as player-manager at Haverhill Rovers after a challenging start to the season Picture: Mecha Morton

A much-changed squad from the one that started the previous abandoned campaign has only managed to accumulate eight points from 11 matches and is without a home win in six games in all competitions.

Shulver, who revealed he is set to interview ‘five to six’ candidates for the vacancy this week, though applications are still open, said: “We only found out Thursday so it was a bit of shell-shock to the football club as we were not really expecting it.

“There was nothing from the club that had driven it.

Haverhill Rovers chairman Ali Shulver is interviewing candidates for the first-team manager vacancy this week
Haverhill Rovers chairman Ali Shulver is interviewing candidates for the first-team manager vacancy this week

“We are all aware of the league situation but we were not panicking as it was a young side which has been assembled. There was not a review meeting until the end of the month.

“Marc has obviously got a full-time job with Cambridge United and a young family with three children and he told us running a Step 5 football club on top had become a bit challenging for him.

“From what we are led to believe he has had to make a few life decisions and get a few priorities in order.

“I have got nothing but positive things to say about Marc, as I have done in the past.”

Marc Abbott pictured after being named first-team manager for the first time in November 2017 – he returned to the club in December 2019 after a short spell in charge of higher-league St Neots Town Picture: Mark Westley
Marc Abbott pictured after being named first-team manager for the first time in November 2017 – he returned to the club in December 2019 after a short spell in charge of higher-league St Neots Town Picture: Mark Westley

Despite their lowly league position, currently occupying one of the two relegation spots, Shulver believes the vacancy presents one of the best opportunities in the Suffolk non-league scene.

He said: “In terms of infrastructure we are the biggest community club in Suffolk with pushing 60 teams and 800 members.

“The football ground is fantastic and is one of the best if not the best in the league.

An aerial shot of The New Croft's facilities, home of Haverhill Rovers FC Picture: Contributed
An aerial shot of The New Croft's facilities, home of Haverhill Rovers FC Picture: Contributed

“The successful candidate will be provided with an environment and resources to ensure they can be competitive and help us climb up the table.

“Looking from the outside everything is here. It is a Step 3 facility that has got its own 3G pitch and youth infrastructure.

“It is a sleeping giant if someone can grab the bull by the horns and move it in the right direction.”

Rovers will be back in action on Wednesday evening at Long Melford (7.45pm) with Abbott’s assistant and goalkeeper coach Dave Walton in interim charge, with help provided by the under-18s’ coaches, such as Stuart Lowe.

It could be the same set-up for Saturday’s trip to basement dwellers Swaffham Town but Shulver certainly aims to have a new manager in place ahead of the home game with Hadleigh United seven days later.

“We are aiming for as soon as possible but we are not going to make a knee-jerk reaction.

“We have got five or six candidates coming in and it is important we speak to them and get the right one.

“We need someone to be able to engage with the rest of the club and link it up.

“It is not just going to be about running the first team.”

Anyone interested in the vacancy with the relevant experience is asked to send a CV and covering email to club secretary Barbara Jones: barbarajoneshrfc@outlook.com

The same contact details can be used to apply for the vacant Haverhill Rovers Ladies' first team position, following Joe White stepping down and having subsequently taken over the Eastern Junior Alliance U15s side.

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