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Rhys Shulver praises Haverhill Borough for appointing Harry Zachariou as new boss





After it was announced that he was stepping down from his role as Haverhill Borough player-manager earlier this week, Rhys Shulver does ‘not think there is a better person out there for the job’ than his successor, Harry Zachariou.

The Haverhill Rovers Under-18s boss will replace Shulver at The New Croft after the former Cambridge United academy coach departed the club because of work commitment that he is juggling alongside a masters degree.

Shulver was installed as Borough boss in April 2023 and his side finished second from bottom in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North last campaign.

Rhys Shulver and Haverhill Borough finished second from bottom last season. Picture: Mecha Morton
Rhys Shulver and Haverhill Borough finished second from bottom last season. Picture: Mecha Morton

However, no teams were relegated from the league, with bottom-of-the-table Needham Market Under-23s surviving on a points-per-game basis and Borough receiving an automatic reprieve from the drop.

“It was a challenging year, I don’t think anyone can hide from that, but for myself, if I can’t give my best full-time commitment to this group that they need, then someone else needs to try and take the club forward,” said Shulver.

“I’ll be really honest, coming to the back end of the season, I knew that’s what I needed to do, with how life was and trying to weigh everything up.

Rhys Shulver was appointed as Haverhill Borough player-manager in April 2023. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Rhys Shulver was appointed as Haverhill Borough player-manager in April 2023. Picture: Mark Bullimore

“It wasn’t an easy decision, we built a really good group of lads and people, and sometimes when you do things like that within football, regardless of how things have gone, it is quite hard to walk away.

“I think, for me, that probably made it a little more difficult but at the same time I think it’s probably right for the club.”

His successor comes with a strong pedigree at The New Croft. Zachariou has been in charge of the powerhouse of an Under-18s side that lifted the Veo Under-18s Midweek Cup earlier this month – a competition where they were playing against teams with players two years above them.

Zachariou’s outfit also wrapped up the Eastern Junior Alliance Under-16 Blue Division for the fourth consecutive season and are looking to a treble when they face Aveley in the Eastern Junior Alliance’s Litho Midweek Cup Final tonight (7.30pm).

Rhys Shulver admitted leaving Haverhill Borough ‘was not an easy decision’. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Rhys Shulver admitted leaving Haverhill Borough ‘was not an easy decision’. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Shulver said: “I’ve known Harry well for a long time, going through the youth set-up together, working the EJA (Eastern Junior Alliance) pathway with him and I don’t think there’s a better person out there for the job.

“He fits the mould of what Borough probably need, but also what the young players in the town need. It’s a really good appointment by the club.

“There’s still been some good work that’s gone on there (at the club) and hopefully, I’d like to think, with the current changes taking place, Borough shouldn’t have to worry about a reprieve of relegation (next season).”

Rhys Shulver has stepped down as Haverhill Borough player-boss Picture: Mark Bullimore
Rhys Shulver has stepped down as Haverhill Borough player-boss Picture: Mark Bullimore

Facilities and football development manager at The New Croft, Peter Betts, reinforced that Shulver ‘was not sacked’.

“Rhys obviously did a really good job last year, keeping things afloat and giving young players opportunities, which is obviously the remit, in reality, for Haverhill Borough,” he said.

“Conversations have been ongoing because he always puts the football club before others. He voiced bits across the season in terms of the work commitments that he had.

“He’s made that decision. Most coaches that look after their workload probably would have just walked away in February and left the football club to deal with the aftermath.

“But he committed his time and efforts until the final game of the season and made sure that the club stayed in the league. From a club perspective, we can’t thank Rhys enough for what he’s done.”

There is a hope that Shulver may join the new coaching staff set-up at Borough, in some capacity, if he can balance the role with his other commitments.