Taking over as a manager at a new club is a massive task, doing so during the middle of a global pandemic is another thing entirely. Highland League football Club Huntly have moved to bring in Allan Hale as their new gaffer, NE98 caught up with him about his new job.
“I would have loved nothing more than meeting the players face to face within a training session and getting straight to work however I’ve spoken to them all individually and will continue to do so, by whatever possible method, until we get the green light from the authorities to return.”
It could be a long wait for Allan Hale before he finally manages his first Huntly game in the Highland League – we’ve only just worked out when the Scottish Premiership will return, so it could be a while before those in control decide, or are allowed, to bring the leagues further down the pyramid back into the fold.
At 32-year-old Hale hasn’t done a whole lot of waiting in his career. Working his way up through the amateur ranks to play for Fraserburgh in his first taste of the Highland League. It would be at just 24-years-old when Hale would first try his hand at management though, becoming player-manager at Junior side Maud. A successful couple of years lead to a subsequent pair of years in his first Highland League coaching role with Keith.
Since leaving Keith in the Summer of 2017 Hale has had a return to Maud, as well as taking a chance at getting back on the pitch with amateur team Bellslea Bar, and then in the combined role of player-assistant manager at Fraserburgh United, the town’s junior outfit.
Having spent so much time in the North East end of Aberdeenshire, moving to Keith meant heading further into the centre of the country, venturing into Moray, he’ll return to a similar area with Huntly, just 10 miles south from his previous Highland League venture.
Hale has built up some significant range of experience in his career thus far, and with that experience comes learning curves and chances to develop.
Hale says he’s been learning throughout his career, and that has all helped build what he can offer the supporters at Christie Park.
“My personal opinion is that as a manager you will constantly make mistakes whether that be through training sessions, recruitment, team selection, tactical decisions and so forth however as you gain more experience and mature within the role those mistakes become less.
What’s important to me is that as a manager you need to self reflect and understand when mistakes have been made and what lessons can be learned to lessen them for the future.”
There will be plenty of time for Hale to reflect on his career thus far while he waits for the new league season to kick-off, and that will also mean ample time for Huntly to plot how they will approach the campaign.
Although Hale has already formed some aims for his new role, he’s taking over at a club that had sat 12th in the division before action was halted.
“Initially I think its important to be realistic with expectations. Due to COVID the majority of clubs will have cut their cloth accordingly financially to ensure clubs get by this period without the projected income that would have been expected to have been generated with the remaining fixtures and fundraising events etc that were cancelled during COVID.
For me its important that we improve year on year as, to me, that’s signs of progress but long term we want to be competing for silverware and competing at the top end of the Highland League.”
Our final question for Allan was a simple one, ‘Why Huntly?’ and what made the club the right step for his at this time?
“I see Huntly as a club that has huge potential. For example the squad has an average age within the low-mid 20s therefore as they gain more experience and exposure to the league they will develop well before their peak which will only benefit the club in the long term. The board, from discussions, are also ambitious and they want to see their club regularly competing in the top half of the Highland League therefore for me it was an excellent opportunity and one I was delighted to accept.”