Stephen Henderson is new BLUES boss
Stephen Henderson, a 42-year-old Dublin born manager is the new team boss at Waterford United. He was unveiled at a press conference at the Granville Hotel on Tuesday night last where it was also announced that he will be assisted by Ray Moran, the local Villa clubman who will be returning to the club for a second time having worked under Brendan Rea and Pat Dolan some years back.
Both have signed a one year contract with the option of a second year although Henderson did admit that he hoped his stay and that of Moran would last much longer than a year or two as he was hoping to be with the club for at least four to five years. He stated that contracts with clubs are not to be taken too seriously, especially during the current financial climate as clubs are finding it extremely difficult to honour those contracts, something that happened with him at Cobh Ramblers.
Stehen Henderson enjoyed a successful playing career with clubs such as Shelbourne, Dundalk, Limerick and Finn Harps. He also played in Northern Ireland with Distillery and Ards. When he finished playing, he linked up with the legendary Bohemians legend, Billy Young, at Dalymount Park as a goalkeeping coach and later did the same job at Cork City when Pat Dolan was the manager at Turners Cross. His father Paddy was a well respected goalkeeper in the League of Ireland. His brother, Wayne, is a full international goalkeeper and his son, David, is the current Under 19 Irish goalkeeper.
A resident of Cobh, he accepted the role of manager at Cobh Ramblers midway through season 2004 and he took the team to 8th position when, at one stage, it looked as if the club would finish bottom under the original manager. The following season he took the St Colemen’s Park outfit to 3rd place and that was followed by a 4th place finish in 2006. He led Ramblers to the league title in 2007 following a remarkable marathon unbeaten run which saw the club move from mid-table to the summit and clinch the title in Athlone in glorious style.
During 2008, he almost kept Cobh Ramblers in the Premier Division despite massive financial problems which resulted in the non payment of wages to players and indeed to himself.
During recent months, the new Blues manager has been a regular on the RTE television soccer programme, ‘MNS’, and he has a high profile within the game in this country. He expressed his surprise that many pundits felt he had made a strange decision to join Waterford United.
“I know I was linked with various jobs such as Cork City and Shamrock Rovers but I feel Waterford has the potential to become a really big club once again. Look at the tradition of the club. In recent years players like Paul McCarthy have really impressed me. Stephen Grant was another player I liked. He was an Under 21 international but, for some reason, he was allowed disappear off the face of the earth. I will be searching for him. At the moment, only one player is signed but, by Saturday, I hope to have more or less the entire squad signed.
“David Breen, for example, is a very good player and it is great to see him here tonight. I will bring in two or three players from the Cork area but it will be more or less a full Waterford/South East squad. Waterford United in the First Division is not acceptable to me. The RSC is a fine stadium and what I want more than anything is to see the team playing good attacking football. I want my goalkeeper to play the ball to the full backs, or wing backs as they are now called and start our attacks from the back. I hate watching goalkeepers kicking the ball up field and everyone else hoping for the best.
“I know the crowds at the RSC have been small in recent years but I firmly believe that, if supporters see a team trying to play football in the proper manner, they will come out and watch. OK, we will kick a few teams if the need arises, that is something we did at Cobh when we won promotion but, hopefully, that will not be too often. My aim to is start training on January 10th. It may be a bit early but I believe we will have to get back then because with a new manager and new ideas we will need that time”, declared the manager.
Henderson made it clear that he wants to see Waterford United as a figurehead in local soccer circles. “I am aware of the fact that Waterford has some very good schoolboy clubs and players and the same applies to the junior set-up. We must never disrespect those clubs and players and I will tell you now that is something I will not do. We will treat them with the utmost respect. It is something the lads who run the club want also and hopefully we can build up a good working relationship with those bodies when it comes to us wanting their players and they wanting to link up with us.
“Waterford United has got a good coaching team right now with Paul O’Brien, Billy Hearne and those guys also want to see a proper structure in place for all strands of football in Waterford.”
When asked what he expected from his new charges in 2009, he made it quite clear he was not here to simply make up the number in the league. “At the very least, I want the team to reach a play-off position. Hopefully I can bring in a very good fitness coach from Cork, a good friend of mine, Martin Cambridge. He is top class and he will improve the fitness of the players no end. I live in Cobh so I will not miss any training sessions. It is only an hour and twenty minutes from Waterford so that is not a problem. We will train on the night before the match and work on what we believe will be needed to beat the opposition. We will work on our shape and set pieces so it will be fresh in the players’ minds.
“All I want to do now is to start signing the players and get down to business on January 10th. I know the budget is smaller than last year and Ray and myself will inform the players of the structures we have in place. We will not promise them the sun, moon and stars and then break those promises. The lads who run this club have been straight up with me as regards the money available and I appreciate that fact. They have kept the club going under extremely difficult circumstances and, unlike a lot of other clubs, they have not buckled and thrown in the towel.
“I regard it as an honour to be appointed and I respect their honesty and the players that I will sign will do the same. I am delighted to be here despite what some people are saying and I have nothing but the highest respect for the committee and the sheer goodwill they have to see that this club become a real force once again. Already, I have spoken to a big striker who I feel would score in the First Division and I will be talking to a few more players apart from the local lads. I am more than happy with what I have to work with so all I want to do now is crack on, get the players signatures on paper and start working on January 10th.”
Henderson also confirmed that he would not be repeating an exercise he conducted with Cobh Ramblers last season prior to the commencement of the campaign when he took the squad off to an Army training camp. “No way”, he said, “I think it nearly killed them so the Waterford players will have no fears on that score!”
For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
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