Ilkeston Town appoint club legend Mark Clifford as their new head coach

Mark Clifford (left) with Ilkeston chief operating officer Nick Hawkins.
Mark Clifford (left) with Ilkeston chief operating officer Nick Hawkins.

Mark Clifford has been announced as the new head coach of Ilkeston Town.

The 42-year-old replaces Lee Fowler, who left the club last week, and returns to the New Manor Ground after enjoying four spells at Ilkeston Town as a player, including winning several promotions and trophies, before he went on to play regularly in the Football League with Boston United.

He has spent the last four years at Basford United, the majority of that time as assistant manager to Martin Carruthers as they enjoyed huge success with the club, taking them into the NPL Premier Division.

And for Clifford, taking on the role was an opportunity he couldn't turn down.

He said: "It's a privilege to have been appointed head coach at Ilkeston.

"I have a good connection with the supporters here having enjoyed a fantastic time at the club as a player, including under the legendary manager Keith Alexander.

"It's a big challenge of course, coming in so close to the start of the season, but if I wasn't comfortable with it I wouldn't have taken it on and we need to go into the campaign full of confidence."

Clifford, who has extensive contacts across the local non-league scene, says he hopes to appoint an assistant manager before the weekend as well as confirm the signings of several new players, all of whom have experience playing in the higher levels of non-league football.

He said: "There are plenty of players left here from last season and it's only fair those lads get an opportunity to show what they can do.

"But we'll also be bringing some in who I think can improve what we have overall. I don't want to be culling the squad left, right and centre, we'll sign people as and when we need to.

"We are about to start building and it will take time, but I'm really excited by what lies ahead."

Ilkeston's chief operating officer, Nick Hawkins, said Clifford, who also played for Chester, Nuneaton and Mansfield during his career, stood out among the other applicants for the job.

He said: "We had some strong contenders and I thank all who applied for the role for their interest.

"Mark has a UEFA A coaching badge and enjoyed great success at Basford. He has an extensive knowledge of players in the local area and I hope he can build on what we already have here.

"I want to thank Basford chairman Chris Munroe for helping us secure Mark's services. He was under contract there and they helped make the transition very smooth and easy for us."

Clifford's first game in charge will be the FA Cup extra preliminary round clash at Loughborough University on Saturday. The match will be played at the home of Loughborough Dynamo FC.