HAMPTON & Richmond Borough’s north east connection is already looking unbreakable in south west London.
This summer has seen big changes behind the scenes at the Beveree as long-standing chairman Steve McPherson called time on nearly a decade at the helm.
His replacement was a familiar face. Former owner Graham Wood returned to football two years after leaving his position at Gateshead, having taken his hometown club from the Northern Premier League to within one victory of the Football League.
He’s working with southern football’s favourite Geordie – and manager Alan Dowson believes the far-away-from-home pair have already clicked.
He told The NLP: “It’s been great working with Graham, we’re lucky here and we always have great football people behind the scenes.
“It’s really strange. We’re both from up there and were born a few miles from each other in the north east. He did great things at Gateshead and it’s fate that two people who know that area hundreds of miles away so well are working together in a little town near London.
“But it’s great, we get on well and he’s been a big help. To be honest, I have always wanted to work with Graham at some point, he’s very good at what he does and hopefully together we can move the club forward.”
Dowson has extra money to work with this time around and, although they got into the play-off via the back door, he says last season was an achievement.
Because of the ground misfortune of Poole Town and Hungerford, seventh-placed Hampton played eventual winners Ebbsfleet in the semis and it was a great learning experience.
“I honestly believe if we had our full squad out we could have won the tie,” Dowson said. “In the second leg, where we were only trailing by one goal, I have never had to put out such a patched up team. They did the club proud.
“It wasn’t our fault what happened to the clubs above us and everyone knows the rules. This season the play-off places are down to seventh anyway so hopefully we can have another go at it.”