Ben Williams and Gary Hearns – Interview

The new AFC Liverpool reserve management team kindly spoke to us this week following their successful start to the Liverpool County Premier League season. We discussed football philosophy, challenges, ambitions for the coming campaign and more.

How did you come to be involved and how do you feel to be a part of AFC Liverpool?

BW – It was a bit out of the blue really, I was having a sabbatical after a decade of managing the first team at my previous club in the Liverpool County Prem. I received a call from Chris Stammers after an internal recommendation, had a couple of conversations with Chris and my Assistant Manager Gaz and we liked what each party had to say about the club and each other’s individual ambitions, the rest as they say is history!

It’s great to be involved in a club with real ambition to be successful both on and off the pitch, and hope that me, Gaz and the team can have a positive impact in supporting that ambition. It’s also a new challenge and focus from a personal point of view which I am really looking forward to.

GH – This pre-season was the first where I had not been involved in football. I had been enjoying the free time but it was in July that I realised I was missing it. When Ben called about the opportunity with AFC it took about 2 seconds of thought before agreeing to go for it.

The ambition of the club matches ours and the values that Chris is instilling within the first team align with ours massively. It’s a great fit.

Will you be looking to stamp a unique style on the reserves or is it important for consistency between reserve and first team set ups?

BW – It’s important to have a positive reputation within the league that we are playing in, and Chris’ ideas around the way to play the game is very similar to the way I want us to play (obviously that’s for us to know!); so I think consistency between the teams styles will happen naturally. Either way we hope to be an addition that the club can be proud of both in style and commitment.

Is it challenging to prepare a team to be self-contained – but also to prepare players to step up to the first team?

BW – Having only been a first team manager previously, it’s a different challenge, and one that I’ve had positive and negative experiences of in the past.

Ultimately the first team is at the top of the tree, so we will be there to support Chris by being competitive at our level week in week out, providing an opportunity for players to play at a really good level on a weekly basis in the Liverpool County Prem, but also to provide players with a platform to match individuals personal aspirations to play at a higher level, and to challenge the current first team crop of players for a shirt in Chris and Stu’s first team set up.

Competition for places is healthy in a club set up and keeps everybody hungry. That opportunity and incentive is there for every player in the reserve team, ultimately its then down to them to show the first team manager that they are good enough to step up to North West Counties level. We will not stand in their way when that happens, we will only be encouraging lads to be the best they can be for us on a weekly basis until that opportunity arises.

GH – This was my biggest concern about managing a Reserve team. I have managed a Reserve team before and the experience wasn’t great at times. We spoke at length before meeting Chris as I was keen that we supported the development of the club and players for the first team, but also be given the opportunity to build a side that could compete in the County Prem. Ben is passionate about his football, developing players, and wanting to win, and his commitment level through the roof. We both needed to know that we were going into a club where the first team manager would also want what we wanted too – if anything for our sanity!

We met Chris and he wanted that too. In minutes, his attitude and outlook cemented our commitment to roles and the club.

What are your ambitions for the coming season?

BW – To compete at our own level whilst developing a squad mixed with experienced and young talent for the benefit of the clubs requirements moving forward. We have only been here for just over 3 weeks, assembled a competitive and talented squad with a great attitude, we’ve had a positive start in the league, so our aim is to instil and maintain high standards across the players and management team. Everything is going in a positive direction so long may that continue.

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