Denton ready for manager’s hot seat

Craig Denton
Craig Denton

Craig Denton believes the time is right for him to be in the managerial hot seat for the first time after leaving Worksop Town for NCEL Premier Division rivals Rainworth MW this week.

The 30-year-old has been an assistant manager and first team coach, but this will be the first time he has been top dog and he can’t wait to get started.

From November until last week Denton had been assistant to caretaker boss Jon Kennedy at Worksop, where he had previously worked as first team coach under Mark Shaw, and said the Tigers will always have a special place in his thoughts.

But now he will spend the summer plotting how to make sure the Wrens finish above them and has brought in Rob Poulter as assistant, who he worked with at Shirebrook Town, and Nev Hunt, from Chesterfield’s academy, to complete his management team.

Once Kennedy announced he wouldn’t be applying for the Worksop job, Denton said he decided it wasn’t for him either.

“I have always been judged on someone else’s players. I decided it was my time to give it a go, bring in my own backroom staff and see what we could at Rainworth to put them back on the map,” he said.

“Once I had met the chairman, been shown around the club and heard what they want to achieve, it gave me a push to want to have a go at being manager myself.

“I fancied a change. Worksop Town is quite close to me. I was there for a season and a half under Mark Shaw, then gone back there and worked with Jon Kennedy. But I didn’t think it was the right move for me. When I was speaking to Rainworth and heard what they wanted to achieve it just felt right.

“It felt like the club would be able to give me what I wanted as much as what I wanted to give them. It was a mutual thing.

“I will always look out for Worksop Town’s results and see how they are going. But for me it’s now about getting Rainworth wining games and competing for a higher finishing place.”

Denton added: “There are a lot of clubs in the NCEL Premier who have big budgets and there are clubs in there who have no budgets.

“Rainworth have a budget. It’s quite a realistic budget. It is a realistic club and they know what they can achieve.

“Obviously I want to win every game but that might not be possible.

“It would be great for the club to go on a good cup run, but the focus is getting stability within the framework of the club, seeing what sort of players we can attract and bring the community and the club together.

“One of the biggest attractions was that it’s a club with realistic targets and expectations. Everyone says pick a chairman, not a club and that was definitely the case for me at Rainworth. I am really excited”

Denton has spent much of his time in the game working at academies. He did over three years at Sheffield Wednesday academy, working on player development.

He then worked at Chesterfield’s academy with a year with the U13s and is now an academy scout for Derby County.

“My background is predominantly football coaching and youth development, getting players through the academy process,” he said.

“I always said I wanted to get into non-League football. I was never one of these coaches who expected to just go out and get a first team job. I’ve done three or four years on the non-League circuit as a head coach and assistant and this is now my chance.

“It’s not just me on my own. I have brought in an experienced ex-professional footballer in Rob Poulter, who played for Sheffield Wednesday. He is currently on his A license and works at Rotherham United academy and has lost of experience.

“I am also bringing in Nev Hunt, who has a B license and is a coach at Chesterfield academy as part of the management team.”

Worksop Town this week thanked Kennedy and Denton for their work.

After finishing 18th in the NCEL Premier Division Rainworth parted company with Julian Watts and his assistant after nearly two years in charge at Langwith Road.

Wrens chairman Les Lee said: “When Julian Watts and Ady Smith left, by mutual agreement, at the end of the season, the club produced a blueprint of the requirements for any future manager, whilst taking our continued status at Step 5 in the NCEL into consideration.

“After meeting with Craig earlier in the week, we were impressed by how close to that blueprint he was.

“With the need for expediency to enable the new manager the longest possible preparation for pre-season, we feel it is necessary to make this early announcement.”