Paul Doswell says Havant & Waterlooville are aiming to get out of the toughest National League South yet – and that’s why switching training to three mornings is key.
Doswell brought the curtain down on a hugely successful 11-year period at Sutton United.
In that time the U’s went from the Ryman Premier to the brink of the Football League, with a famous FA Cup fifth round tie with Arsenal.
Doswell, who has recently been diagnosed diabetic, took a break from the hot seat in March before announcing the end of his tenure permanently on Easter Monday explaining the travelling to and from his Winchester home had taken its toll.
And when the vacancy at a club on his doorstep came up, Doswell took the chance to begin a new chapter with the Hawks.
“It’s a massive part of my life – 11 years, we drove Sutton forward,” Doswell said. “It was one of the best experiences and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But ultimately, this last season I found difficult with the travelling. I’ve been diagnosed diabetic so you need to be eating right, at the right times. It was four hours a day four times a week and that was the only reason.
“The first month of having the break I didn’t miss the travel side of it at all. Then that’s when I realised it was best for my own health and sake. I was always going to stay involved in football it was just with who and what level. The level didn’t overly matter to me, I’m immersed in Non-League football.
“But, let’s be honest, when this chance came along for me it was a no brainer. Havant is a very good club – a club I played for, I know the chairman well, and the stars aligned.
“The chairman has given me a three-year contract and the goal I’ve been set during that three years is can I get the club back into the National League? It’s a good challenge. It’s going to be one of the hardest National League Souths for a long time.
“It’s a good league with some good clubs in there who will all feel they’ve got a good chance to go up as well.
“So it’s a competitive league, which I like, and again the travel in the South is a lot less than in the National, which suits me at the moment.
“I’m going to get stuck into it and hopefully continue the successes we had at Sutton.”
Havant were relegated from the National League this season and Lee Bradbury, the manager who led them there with successive promotions, moved on by mutual consent.
Doswell believes the part-timers did well last season but believes a training schedule switch is vital.
“That was the key element to me taking the job,” Doswell said. “Unless they’d gone three mornings a week, I just didn’t feel training in the evenings was compatible certainly with the National League level and probably not with the Conference South level now if you want to give yourselves a genuine chance.
“I think Maidstone are four mornings, Aldershot full-time, Billericay full-time – so to give ourselves the best chance to get back to where the chairman wants to get to, it was to change. I wouldn’t have come here if it was evening training – I wouldn’t want to do that myself.”
Work has already begun for the new season as he attempts to replicate the success of Sutton.
“A lot of what is down there is excellent,” he said. “Great pitch, good stadium, good training facilities – really, really good. It’s some tweaking as much as anything that will make it get going very quickly.”
BY MATT BADCOCK