Home   Herne Bay   Sport   Article

Herne Bay manager Ben Smith says he can't wait to face 'the non-league's Sir Alex Ferguson' in Folkestone boss Neil Cugley next season


More news, no ads

LEARN MORE

Herne Bay boss Ben Smith is looking forward to facing a manager he’s described as the Sir Alex Ferguson of non-league football as he begins to prepare for life in Isthmian Premier.

Smith is yet to come up against long-serving Folkestone boss Neil Cugley in a league fixture but the pair will go head-to-head during the 2022/23 campaign after Bay won the Isthmian South East play-offs to earn promotion to Step 3 of the non-league pyramid for the first time in the club’s history.

Herne Bay boss Ben Smith can't wait for next season's Isthmian Premier campaign. Picture: Chris Davey
Herne Bay boss Ben Smith can't wait for next season's Isthmian Premier campaign. Picture: Chris Davey

It’s the fixture Smith is looking forward to most since Bay earned promotion.

“Neil Cugley has been a fantastic manager, the Alex Ferguson of non-league,” said Smith. “We’ve played pre-season friendlies against them but I’ve never had the pleasure of facing him in a league game.

“Hopefully players will look at other players and try and take bits from them. He’s someone I have a lot of respect for and he’s a great role model for any young manager in the game.”

Smith is also looking forward to the derby with Margate as well as pitting his wit against footballing sides such as Lewes.

“Margate’s a local derby as well, there’s great fans there. Their fans and our fans actually get on, which is mad.

“Your Tony Russells of the world [at Lewes], I’ve never come up against them. With the style of play they’ve got, it’s another team I’ve got massive respect for. I literally cannot wait.”

Folkestone's Neil Cugley is a role model for any young manager, says Bay boss Ben Smith. Picture: Andy Jones
Folkestone's Neil Cugley is a role model for any young manager, says Bay boss Ben Smith. Picture: Andy Jones

Smith admits Bay are prepared for a relegation scrap if that’s what’s needed for them to maintain their Isthmian Premier status but says his long-term goal is to be challenging at the top end of the league.

“Bring it on, it’s a great challenge,” he added. “We are going to have some tough, tough games but that’s what we want. That’s what you are in football for.

“This season when I said Whitstable weren’t our rivals, people were giving me stick so I’ll say it again. They weren’t our rivals because the teams that were going to be at the top were always going to be our rivals.

“Next year, whoever is at the top, we are going to have to do everything we can to try and be as good as them. It may take two, three or four seasons.

“It might take a season of being down the bottom, fighting and scrapping, but your ambition has got to be fighting for the next one (promotion) - otherwise what’s the point in being in football?”

Herne Bay have announced the following pre-season friendlies, which will all played away while work continues on the new 3G pitch at Winch’s Field.

July 9: Tooting & Mitcham, July 12: Welling United, July 16: Sheppey United, July 19: VCD, July 26: Chipstead, July 30: Merstham.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More