Clifford Adams has tonight been named as the new manager of Wakehurst Football Club.
The well-known local coach takes up the position a week after stepping down as manager of Ballymena United’s under-19 side.
He joins Wakehurst at a time of major transition for the Ballymena club, who were relegated from NIFL Championship Two this season, ending a spell of 14 years as an Irish League Club.
Adams has established a reputation for developing young players and has extensive contacts in youth football circles across Northern Ireland.
Last season he led United’s youth team to the IFA Harry Cavan Youth Cup final where they lost to Crusaders. He will be assisted by John Clarke, who performed the same role for Ballymena’s youth team.
“Myself and John are absolutely delighted to be taking charge of Wakehurst FC who have a proud history and I thank the chairman and the board for giving us this opportunity,” Cliffy told Times Sport.
“My first aim will be to establish an understanding of the structure as it currently stands and get talks with all players as soon as possible.
“I will then, with my own backroom staff discuss what needs worked on and what ideas we need to implement to move the club forward after a tough season.
“This will begin at senior team then reserve and then we will chat with Northend to pass on our ideas and see where we can help each other.
“My ambition for the senior team is building a team of local talent, who will have the same belief and work ethic as ourselves. I want to see promotion as soon as possible but I am realistic enough to know it is going to be a very competitive league with Coagh, Glebe, Newtowne and all the usual big names.
“Jason Connolly will remain reserve team manager and the reserves will become a development team and we will actively use it to feed our first team moving forwards,” added Cliffy.
It was a turbulent season for Wakehurst, who appointed Paul Muir as manager this time last year but the former Ballymena United and Crusaders defender stepped down in January, with a three-man coaching structure, including interim manager Douglas Stevenson, taking charge until the end of the season.
But they were unable to turn the club’s fortunes around and Wakehurst’s relegation was confirmed with a number of games of the season still outstanding.
The club has been successful in being admitted to the Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League - one of the league from which it could potentially gain promotion back to the Championship and at the club dinner last week, officials sent out a strong message that the club intends to regain its Irish League status as quickly as possible.
* Adams has already made his first signing for Wakehurst, snapping up young Ballymena United reserve team striker Aaron Weir.