New No2 hopes his experience will help Pagham climb

Malcolm Harwood with Tom Evans at Sidlesham, after they won the Sussex division-three title
Malcolm Harwood with Tom Evans at Sidlesham, after they won the Sussex division-three title

Malcolm Harwood, the former Midhurst, Arundel and most recently Sidlesham manager, is relishing being involved in Sussex football again - this time with Pagham.

As a player, he turned out for Slindon and Eastergate and went onto play for Chichester for more than 15 years making around 50 first-team appearances.

As a manager, he won both the West Sussex premier division and Sussex County division 3 in successive seasons whilst in charge of Sidlesham and left on a high at the end of last season. Harwood spoke of his fondness for his former club saying:

“I left because of a difference in opinions, however there was no animosity whatsoever and it was completely my decision, I have only good words to say about the club.”

He has since signed at Nyetimber Lane as manager John Price’s second in command:

“John heard on the grapevine about my departure from Sidlesham and he phoned me to set up a meeting. He explained to me he was looking for another voice in the dressing room to provide a different perspective on the game.

“He told me he was making suggestions and getting yeses all the time, so he wanted someone strong enough to change the approach and provide an alternative opinion.

“I said I’d love to do it, John and I have a mutual respect and I feel this structure of management works as its good to bounce ideas off others. I hope to provide a second voice for the players to listen to.”

Harwood also says he will have no issue with playing second fiddle to Price after being in charge on his own for so long: “It’s not difficult at all, you just fall into it, there’s a nice order to things and most of our team talks are pre-arranged anyway. I let John have his say and then I take over and do my part.”

Harwood feels he can bring something to the improving Lions that is currently lacking - an experience and a knowledge of man management in the game.

“John has a lot of playing experience but he is relatively new as a manager. My man-management skills are my strength as I enjoy contact with the players. I know from experience that you can’t treat everyone the same. Some players you have to put your arm around, and some you have to rip into, I feel I can pick up on what players need.

“My remit is to get heads up and players bouncing again, its fair to say that the start of the season hasn’t gone as we would’ve hoped but we’ve got the tools to do well in this league, and I agree with John in saying that finishing in the top six is not unrealistic. In fact I would be disappointed if we didn’t.”

Regarding the strength of the squad, he said: “I still feel we are short in the centre-half position. We are also losing a few players who are off travelling after Christmas, so that will leave a little hole to fill, but the squad in depth has real quality and we are in good form at the moment.”

The first game of Harwood’s tenure was a 3-1 victory over struggling Worthing, and he was pleased with the players’ response to his appointment:

“ Its a bit cliché but I believe the best form of defence is to attack. We kept pressing high up the pitch and we limited them to a few chances, we were good to watch in the second half.”

Pagham continue their league programme with Saturday’s trip to Ringmer in the league.

JAMES SANDFORD