CRAWLEY Town’s new head of youth Steve Martin is loving his football again.
Martin’s appointment was announced last week as the Reds replaced Simon Rusk, who is now working at Brighton & Hove Albion, and after seven years at Portsmouth and two at Stoke where he was the Potters’ academy director, has an impressive CV.
The 44-year-old former Aldershot apprentice left Stoke two years ago to be closer to his family in Hampshire, and believes there is an untapped wealth of talent in the Sussex area.
“I think there is a bed of talent, judging by the amount of players from the Brighton area I signed while at Portsmouth,” Martin said. “The biggest priority for the football club is the Crawley area, we will look in our own back yard first before we start adventuring further afield.
“Stoke was a fantastic experience, I was treated immaculately. But I have a young family, and I was getting back once a week at first, and then that became once every three months.
“I am really happy in football again, it’s all fresh and everyone is excited about a possible promotion. Crawley is a very strong club, there is no doubt it is going in the right direction.
“My predecessor (Rusk) put down some very good foundations and it’s a fantastic platform to work from with a small team of staff.”
Martin, who was offered the job immediately after his interview on Friday, will be working alongside a team of Mark Beard, Matthew Bubb, former Red Jay Lovett, Steve Leake and Colin Jenkinson, with input from Paul Gillingham.
“We want to create a DNA that people will recognise as Crawley,” Martin added. “We do not want the players under pressure not to make mistakes and they can play with freedom.
“This is something that’s really exciting and right up my street.”
Reds chief executive Alan Williams said Martin’s appointment cemented their commitment to nurturing local talent.
“Steve’s job, working with our existing coaching staff, will be to make this aspect of the club’s football operation even stronger,” he added.
Martin watched a young reserves side in action on Monday night, when they suffered a last-minute 2-1 defeat away to Forest Green Rovers.