Darren Hare described Hastings United as a football club he holds close to his heart after being appointed first team manager.
The club announced on Wednesday that Hare has filled the void left by the resignation of previous boss Garry Wilson at the end of the 2015/16 Ryman League Division One South season.
Hare was a centre-forward at Hastings under the management of Peter Sillett in the early 1990s and has fond memories of his time at The Pilot Field.
He said: “I had just over a season there. The crowd never saw the best of me. I had a knee operation and never really fulfilled my promise, and then I went to Hong Kong.
“Even though it was short, my time at Hastings was very pleasurable and it’s a club I hold quite close to my heart. It’s just got something about it.
“I loved everybody that was involved behind the scenes and I said to the board this is probably the only club where I would’ve applied for a manager’s job.”
Maidstone-based Hare, who recalls United directors Tony Cosens and Dave Nessling from his previous time at the club, is a UEFA A-licensed coach and has built up a wealth of football experience.
The 49-year-old spent well over a decade at Gillingham FC in various roles, including head of youth development, academy manager and joint first team caretaker manager. Hare also had two very successful years as assistant manager at Dover Athletic.
You have to go back a couple of decades for his previous forays into management, which came at Canterbury City and latterly Folkestone Invicta.
“I wasn’t prepared or experienced enough then, but 20 years on I believe I’m ready and I’ve got the skillset now to do well,” he continued.
Hare was chosen from the applicants for the job and United chairman Dave Ormerod said it was his qualifications which separated him from the rest.
“We did give it a lot of consideration and that’s why it’s been a longer delay than we thought it might be, but at the end of the day I think we’ve picked the right man,” he said.
“He came over very well in interview and I think it was his qualifications (which made him stand out) to be honest. You can never tell in football, but hopefully he will be successful.”
Dean White will continue as head coach within the club’s football academy and Glyn White will continue to manage the club’s development squad.
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