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Former Herne Bay player Dan Lawrence back at the club as manager of the under-18s

When the football season kicks off next week, Dan Lawrence won’t be.

Instead of playing, the former Herne Bay favourite will be helping the club’s best young players get the coaching they need to push them towards the first-team - just as he did as a kid.

Canterbury City's former management duo of Dan Lawrence and Sam Wilson have teamed up at Herne Bay to run the under-18s
Canterbury City's former management duo of Dan Lawrence and Sam Wilson have teamed up at Herne Bay to run the under-18s

While Lawrence hasn’t completely ruled out taking to the field again, the 35-year-old is now putting all his energy into his new role as the club’s under-18 manager.

It’s been time-consuming, it’s been challenging, but he’s loving it so far.

He said: “I used to watch my dad (goalkeeper Paul Lawrence) play for the club after I trained in the youth teams at Herne Bay and it’s always a club I have been a part of. It was nice to have represented them as a player and now I can, hopefully, bring youngsters through to the first-team.

“It is probably the right time to give up playing and trying to help some youngsters through, there is a pathway to the first-team and it is one that I know. I went from the youth team, the reserves and into the first-team.

“I am really excited by it, I was carrying a few injuries and it seemed the right time to jump into coaching.”

Lawrence had a brief stint as joint-manager at Southern Counties East side Canterbury City alongside young coach Sam Wilson, who will be joining him at Herne Bay.

The pair conducted trials to pick a team for the season ahead and Lawrence admitted that was tough. He had previously coached a junior Herne Bay team up through the age groups to under-18 level and only one of that group was selected.

“I was expecting 20-30 to come along but I had 65 across the three trial days,” he recalled. “It was certainly more than expected.

“I made a point of contacting everyone afterwards, it was a busy few weeks and tough as well.

"It is never nice to tell a 16-17 year-old that they haven’t made it, but you just have to be honest.”

Around a third of those hopefuls are now in the Bay under-18 squad. The step from youth level to the Isthmian Premier, where the first-team play, is a big one. Lawrence will be doing what he can to make it less so.

He said: “I wouldn’t want to coach an under-18 side if there is no step forward into first-team football and they won’t be trusted, but the path is there for them.

“We have had one lad who has played a few pre-season games already, Archie Hatcher. I know Ben (Smith, the first-team manager) and work closely with him and there are some really good players here at Herne Bay. Hopefully in years to come we will see them come through and form the spine of the team.”

One day there might be another Lawrence family member in the team, too. His 19-month old son is already kicking the ball around.

“The missus has already said are you going to coach him!?”

Herne Bay lost 1-0 to Chipstead on Tuesday night, following a 3-2 defeat to Ramsgate at the weekend.

Their pre-season campaign continues with a game at National South Ebbsfleet United on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

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