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Clean slate for Belper Town’s players, says new boss Black

Belper boss Grant Black
Belper boss Grant Black

New Belper Town boss Grant Black has stated that everyone will get a fair chance to impress this pre-season, as he looks to shape a squad fit to challenge come August.

Former Ossett Town manager Black was appointed to the Marston’s Stadium hot seat this week and has spoken of his delight at getting the opportunity at a club he feels has a lot of potential both on and off the field.

Grant Black pictured when playing for Buxton

Grant Black pictured when playing for Buxton

He will invite last season’s players back for the start of training on Tuesday 3rd July and expects there to be new additions to the squad, as he and the club target an improvement on last season’s 16th place finish in the Evo-Stik NPL South.

Black has been around the Evo-Stik leagues a long time as a player with the likes of Buxton and Matlock Town, where he assisted then-manager Mark Hume for his first taste in the dugout before taking on the Ossett reins.

“There’s always going to be people moving on and players coming in,” Black told the Belper News. “It’s the same at any club when a new manager comes in - they want to work with players they can trust.

“That will be no different with us. We will be bringing in players we’ve worked with in the past but the players who were there last season will be invited to come back for the first pre-season sessions.

“Some people say they underachieved last year but they will all have a clean slate and if they come back and perform in pre-season then they’ll have that opportunity to start on 18th August.”

Black, 34, started his playing career at Barnsley and went on to have spells at several clubs before taking up a player-coach role at Matlock. From there he got the job at Ossett and guided them to the Evo-Stik NPL North play-offs in 2016/17.

He left in January of this year and believes the opportunity at Belper was too good to turn down.

“It’s a club that I’ve always known about,” he said. “I played a lot of years at Buxton and then went to Matlock so I’ve always been around the area.

“It’s always had a good reputation as a family club and one that wants to kick on up the football pyramid - they’ve obviously been in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier before.

“As soon as they made contact, it was a no-brainer to see where the club was at and what the plans were. Once we’d spoken, I couldn’t wait to get the job really. There is a lot of potential off the field as well as on it. Hopefully we can kick on.”

And added: “I was assistant to Mark Hume at Matlock then felt the time was right to do my own thing. I went to Ossett and they were struggling at that time. I feel like I did well there.

“Taking the Belper job is a natural progression for me. Belper has got that history, the potential to get back up and I made no secret to them I want to manage as high as I can. I see them being a massive part of that.”

Black takes over the managerial reins from Aaron Webster who left the club at the end of April amid a turbulent 24 hours for Belper which saw Alan Benfield resign as chairman along with local businessmen Chris Balls and Paul Waldron.

The Nailers has since appealed for volunteers from the community to come forward and help in the running of the club across a variety of roles.

Black will be assisted by Mick Norbury and Steve Ridley, who will also be registered as a player, and has said he and his coaching staff have been given the necessary assurances they need to take the post.

“I’ve spoken to everyone in charge who are running things at this time,” said Black. “We’ve got assurances in place that everything is how it should be.

“What the club is offering in terms of budget is something we feel we can work with, we can compete with what they are offering.

“The club is keen to get things stronger off the pitch which will benefit all parts. I’m used to working with tighter budgets than others in my previous job so that’s not something that fazes me. We feel like we can work with that.

“Things change in football quite quickly and people move on and that’s part of any business. I’ve got every confidence in the people that I’ve met and selected me for the job that we’re ready to kick this club on.”