Hello all…long time no see! We hope that you and yours are keeping well, and we have our fingers crossed that we’ll soon know more about when we can start planning for next season.
That said, we’ve got some more exciting news to share for you today. Following recent news of our expansion to bring women’s and youth football to the club, today we’re pleased to announce that we’ll also be running a men’s reserve team who’ll be playing in the Essex Senior League Reserve Division. Home games will take place on Friday nights at our new home, Bowers & Pitsea’s Len Salmon Stadium.
And with a new team comes a new manager, and we’re proud to welcome Kiernan Hughes-Mason to the club.
We caught up with Kiernan recently to ask him about his career and his thoughts on joining The Tags…
I started out at Arsenal when I was about 7, and was there for about 8 years, so I know Sam Byles from that time. I then went on to Spurs for a year or so then joined Millwall where I did my scholarship and went pro. Whilst I was there I was part of the side which won promotion from League 1. I then played in the Conference at Kettering and Grimsby, and won the Conference South with Welling. After an injury I played at Maidstone United and then over 100 times for Leatherhead, before being part of a Hastings side which made history, scoring the most goals in English football that season! I’ve also had a spell in New Zealand playing and coaching, and more recently was a player/coach at Barking. In recent times I’ve concentrated more on my coaching, working for Pro Direct Academy and eventually setting up my own academy/football education programme.
Not much, initially, but after you won the league I started to hear a lot more, and also internally from the likes of Harry Honesty, Peds and Sam Byles, so I took more notice. I could see from a distance that it was a well-run football club with an excellent fanbase and Spencer’s vision is clear. And then last season, I actually played against you, at Woodford Town. Their manager was a friend of mine and he brought me in for that game, so I got to see you at first hand for the first time with the cameras etc and I loved it. I had a good chat with Joe Keith who helped me with advice about transitioning from playing to coaching. A while later, Joe mentioned the reserves so I had a chat with him and Devs and jumped at the opportunity. The club are going places and for me to start my coaching career at this level is an opportunity I couldn’t turn down…it was a no-brainer!
As a coach, I’m big on keeping possession and moving the ball with a purpose. But as a reserve manager you do need to keep an eye on what the first team is doing to ensure some sort of continuity across the teams in terms of formation and style of play. Obviously sometimes I’ll need to change the approach and it won’t all be pretty football, there are times when you need to play the percentages, but I’ll do my best to play good football and to help Devs and Joe build the first team.
We’d love as many of you to come down as possible to support us! I’m a big believer in bringing through talented young players who want to kick on, and we’re not just here to make up the numbers. You can expect a hard-working team and hopefully some of the boys will push on to the senior squad.
We also spoke to Devs about Kiernan’s appointment, who said:
As soon as we knew that we were going to have a reserve team for this upcoming season, I was pretty clear in my mind of the type of person that I wanted in charge. For me it is a perfect position for a young coach looking to cut their own teeth in management. Joe (Keith) knows Kiers quite well and he became aware that Kiers was looking to move into management. We set up a meeting between the three of us, spoke about ambitions and values for ourselves as individuals but also for the players we represent and it became clear to me and Joe that Kiernan would be ideal for the role of reserve team manager. I’m very excited to have Kiers join our team and look forward to seeing him progress players into the Hashtag United first team. I would also like to think that we can use the knowledge and experience within our existing staff group to help Kiers in his own early development as a manager.
I’m really excited that we are going to have a reserve team next season. I was in charge of managing our Sunday team over the last few seasons and I tried to treat this as our reserves in a way to help some of the first team get match fit when returning from injuries or similar but the reality was that the level was some way off what we needed it to be as a functional reserve team of a first team that is trying to be successful. So I’m really excited about this addition, and I’m also very happy with Kiernan being in charge. In many ways I let Devs handle this appointment as he needs to build his own team, but after talking to Devs about him and hearing Kiernan’s background and what he brings to the role, it’s a decision I endorse 100% and I’m looking forward to working with Kiernan at the club. He looks like he’s someone who could have a bright coaching career ahead of him.
It has been a spring with lots of new additions to the Hashtag family, all of which I’m really excited to see come to fruition on the pitch, hopefully in the coming months when we can get back to doing what we do best. The club is no doubt stronger than we were before this pandemic, which is a remarkable thing to say, and I want to thank everyone who supports the club in any way for allowing us to make these improvements.
Up the Tags!
The depth of the men’s teams doesn’t end with the reserve team, however. Following our merger with Forest Glade FC, we’ll now have a development side playing in the Essex Olympian League (Division 4) under their manager Denis Simpson. Denis said:
It’s really exciting to be part of the Hashtag family, and to be playing as their development side this season. The boys did well last year, their first as a senior team in the Olympian League, and we’ll be looking to push on this season. We’re a young side, and hopefully over time we’ll help players bridge that gap between youth and first team football at the club. As for recruitment for this season…if you’re young, talented and based near us, watch this space!
This news means that for the first time, the club will have an established pathway from mini-soccer to youth to senior football, both in the men’s and women’s sections. The future is bright!
We’re now even more excited to get the ball rolling next season so fingers crossed that will be sooner rather than later!