Ashford United have appointed Kevin Watson as their new manager.
Watson joins the Nuts & Bolts as Tommy Warrilow’s successor after standing down at Herne Bay.
The former Chatham and Cray Valley boss was among more than 35 applicants for the position.
However, once he expressed his interest, there was no need to interview anybody else.
Watson led Cray Valley to Southern Counties East title glory and the FA Vase final at Wembley in 2019.
He also guided the Millers to the Isthmian South East play-offs last season, when they were edged 1-0 by Ashford in the semi-finals.
“We’re delighted to bring Kevin to the club,” said Nuts & Bolts owner Don Crosbie.
“He’s got pedigree and has had great success.
“When we decided we’d gone as far as we could with Tommy, we thought about lots of candidates but the one that stuck out was Kevin.
“We’ve played against his teams for a few years, they’re always well set up, they play lovely football and they’re difficult to play against.
“We said it would be great to get Kevin but by that time we’d had 12/14 applications come in.
“All of a sudden, Kevin’s came in, which was great.
“It was almost like, ‘Wow, things are falling into place for us’.
“I gave him a ring and invited him in and by the time we’d gone through the chat we’d had over 35 applications.
“That’s fantastic but you’re better off sticking with someone you know, someone you think is proven, someone who’s always impressed you - and that’s Kevin, 100%.”
Watson, a head teacher, had clearly done his homework before meeting the Ashford board.
Crosbie was impressed with his knowledge of the club, leaving him in no doubt he was the man for the job.
“Kevin’s got great ability and he’s also very intelligent,” said Crosbie.
“When we had the meet, the first thing he said to me was do you know how many red and yellow cards your team’s had?
“He had all the stats, when we’d scored, when we’d conceded, yellow cards, red cards, all in front of him, which was unbelievable.
“He’s a bit of a statistician but that’s not a bad thing because it helps you understand the mechanics of the game and where things were going wrong and going well.
“We were really impressed, I’ve got to say.
“He was the only manager we interviewed and I’ll tell you for why.
“There were some very good applicants but we kept coming back to that one thing: have we played against this manager’s teams and been really impressed with them?
“In a couple of cases, yes, but every team we’ve played against that Kevin has managed was a very good side and that’s what swung it.
“He’s proven. It’s not a gamble. He knows how to put a good team together and he knows how to play good football.
“The players have got to respect the manager and no one has said anything detrimental about Kevin or his management.
“That’s a good thing as well because there are managers out there who are good managers but lots of players are wary of them because of their style of play or their discipline, etc.”
Ex-boss Warrilow left by mutual consent last week after four years in charge.
The Nuts & Bolts made two play-off finals under their former defender but it was time for a change after missing out this season.
“I’ve known Tommy for years,” said Crosbie. “He’s a great friend and he’ll still be a great friend.
“I don’t know what went wrong this season.
“The wrong players, perhaps, not the right mix, but we couldn’t get going from day one.
“We had a poor pre-season, with players away and playing with a lot of trailists and youngsters.
“We just bumped along for the whole season.
“Despite everything Tommy tried, it just didn’t happen, which is sad, but life’s like that.
“We had four years with Tommy and we’d have loved another four years but sadly we just did’n’t feel we were getting anywhere.
“I spoke to Tommy at length. I love him dearly, he’s a great bloke, honest and fair-minded, and he agreed a change was needed.
“There’s no animosity. We thank him for everything he did at the club.
“We had great times together. We nearly got over the line, with a couple of play-off finals, but this year everything that could go wrong went wrong.”