An interview with Danny Kedwell

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with former Cray Wanderers boss Danny Kedwell via instant messaging to find out how he felt his time went at the club and what plans he has for his future in the game:

TK: How did you end up taking the Cray Wanderers job?

DK: Gary Hillman the chairman of Cray approached me after someone else had put my name forward to him. The very least I was going to do was have a chat about the job but it appealed to me massively.

TK: Were there any second thoughts given you needed to completely rebuild the squad?

DK: No, I liked the idea of the challenge, a chance to put my own stamp on the job from the very beginning, something that was very exciting to me.

TK: Having had such a good career within the game as a player was it easier to persuade players to come and play for you?

DK: No, not really. I liked the conversations I was having to try and get players in during that transition period with a lot of players coming in and other shipping out, I felt I was very close to getting what we needed to be able to stay in the division.

I didn’t feel I got enough time, if it had been said to me at the beginning you need to build a full squad and you need to be right in the thick of it at the top end of the table after 19 games I wouldn’t have taken the job.

TK: You’ve played under some very good managers in your career, have you taken a little something from all of them and adapted it a bit to how you coach and manage?

DK: Yeah, I’ve taken from a couple of them but more off the pitch stuff which I found helped me when I was playing and I hope the players did benefit from it for the time I was there.

TK: How did you find fitting in the work as a Step 4 manager around the day job at Ebbsfleet Academy?

DK: It worked quite well actually as the academy work was all in the mornings so that left me free to concentrate on the job at Cray and made it easier to get away for midweek games as well.

TK: We met after the Horsham game when you won 3-0 and things looked to have turned a corner then but the change didn’t materialise. How disappointed were you that it didn’t work out at Hayes Lane with Cray Wanderers?

DK: I’d like to think it was about to happen. I found it disappointing I only got 19 games after building a brand new squad that needed time to gel and for players to be added all the time to improve things. I felt we were very close to that corner being turned, we were playing some good football as you saw in that Horsham game and we were dominating games, the results don’t show that.

TK: And now onto Chatham in the thick of a title challenge in the Southern Counties East League, was it important to you to get into a club where there was something to play for this season and to keep you mentally tuned?

DK: No, not really. It didn’t really come into my mind and wasn’t even thinking about the next steps when the call came so it was a bit of a shock. They’ve a great set-up though and it was where my football journey began so a little bit of a no-brainer to head back there.

TK: Should another offer come along to return to the dug-out before the season ends, will Danny Kedwell be back on the touchline or some time out until the summer?

DK: I’m biding my time; the next offer and club has to be right so I’m not going to rush in and take the first job that’s offered to me. But I definitely want another crack at it in the near future.

My thanks to Danny for his time and hopefully we see him back in the dug-out in the not too distant future.

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An old haunt proves a happy return

For those of you who read the Cray Wanderers vs Horsham blog posted a day or so ago you’ll know I spent the evening with the former Bromley boss Neil Smith.

Smudger as he’s most commonly known, was someone I interviewed not long before we went into that first lockdown two years ago on the back of watching him in the BT Sport production on five clubs it followed, Ben Strevens I had made contact with after watching it and he provided a few numbers for me.

Apart from a couple of Zoom chats since with Strevs and Darren Currie, this was the first opportunity for us to meet up after 2 and a half years and take in a game together. Smith lives a short walk from Hayes Lane but this game was going to be his first return to the club, where he spent ten years and some very memorable times, since his sacking last March, probably best it was a Cray game rather than the landlords.

Many of you will know he’s great company, loves to chat and knows so many people, so of course he sorted out the tickets for us but also introduced me to the leading lights of Cray Wanderers FC, Gary Hillman and Sam Wright.

For me as someone who would love to get on the football writing ladder and although this blog does wonders I want to take it further so any contacts I get inside the non-league game I cling onto and over the past couple of years my contact book has grown immensely and is still building.

We could quite easily have gotten into the stadium and sat down to watch but instead Neil made sure I met everyone around, a nice touch. Steve King the manager of National League South side Dartford was there to check on his opponents in the FA Trophy in a week’s time, so there was a conversation to be had and you pick up bits and pieces.

Being the tenants to Bromley meant Smudger knew plenty of people in and around the stadium and it was nice to see him catching up, sharing a laugh with people all the way through the evening.

When we got to half time he came across Jerry Dolke, a former owner of the Ravens, another handshake and conversation being had, all the time plenty to listen to and take on board.

Of course we chatted during the game, two years and more is a long time and a lot to happen. Neil’s had offers, not a handful but a couple, not yet the right one has landed in his lap. He told me he’s never spoken to so many owners in his life but before last March he’d not been looking to go anywhere and I think having the time out of a club has opened his eyes a little to what else is out there and how differently other clubs do things, you never stop learning.

After the game I made sure we stopped off for a beer in the bar and to see the reaction he got from the bar staff and two of the elder stewards was fantastic, a man very much revered around Hayes Lane and definitely not forgotten.

That wasn’t the end of the conversations once Cray boss Danny Kedwell arrived in the bar, another handshake and conversation and maybe someone I’ll tap into for a blog piece, interesting angle for him for his 1st managerial job whilst working for Ebbsfleet Utd’s academy.

When you’re in the company of guys like these and others with so many stories and things to tell you it’s a shame when the evening has to end but I think getting Smudge out the house and back down to the ground for the first time in over 18 months cleared out a few cobwebs and there is a possibility he was going back for more at the weekend as Cray faced Bishops Stortford!

Great guy to know, fantastic company and I hope we get to repeat it later on this season, who knows maybe I’ll get him up to The Hive for more than one or two beers……