Former Sunderland, Wimbledon and Bradford City defender Darren Holloway has joined Alun Armstrong’s backroom staff – as he will work alongside Neal Hooks as joint assistant managers at Blyth Spartans.
The former defender played alongside the Blyth boss at Darlington towards the end of both of their on-field careers during the 2006/07 season, before the pair were reunited in a coaching capacity at Middlesbrough.
Holloway was part of the Sunderland side that finished in seventh place in 2000, before leaving for fellow Premier league side Wimbledon that summer. With a wealth of playing experience to draw on – as well as his coaching skills – Armstrong hopes that the 39-year-old can help with the defensive aspect of Spartans’ training.
Armstrong said: “Not only did we play together at Darlington for a couple of seasons, he doesn’t live too far from me and he started the season at Middlesbrough as well. I got chatting to him about it once the job came about and asked if he would be interested.
“I think it will help all parties, to be honest – as we need a little bit of experience, because it’s hard for me and Neal. I think you need as much as you can get really.
“My whole outlook was to look for someone who could focus on the defensive aspect and help the lads with their positional play – especially the back four – and Darren fits that mould perfectly, because he’s played there himself.
“I think we got everything covered now and that’s what I said to Hooksy. We can work on the midfield and the attacking play and Darren can take care of the defence.”
Hooks was only appointed as Tom Wade’s assistant at the start of the current season but – after Wade’s departure last month – he was kept on by the new manager. Despite Holloway’s appointment, Armstrong is still looking for the player/assistant to be involved in his setup – as he feels the 29-year-old is still a crucial part of his coaching staff.
Armstrong added: “I’ve spoke to Daz for a couple of weeks now, to see if he would come in and do it, but I didn’t want to upset things – as I think it’s going alright with Neal. Hooksy will still be involved and I just want him to continue with what he’s doing.
“Hooksy’s been fantastic since I arrived and I don’t want to change anything. I just wanted Darren in there to bring a little bit more experience.
“Neal is a great link between myself and the players and I need him to continue to be that.”
Holloway is expected to be in attendance for tonight’s Evo-Stik Premier League clash against Ilkeston.