It will be a special moment for new Hemel Hempstead manager Sammy Moore when his team play Deal in the Hoops’ opening pre-season friendly at the Charles Ground on Saturday (2.30pm).
Not only will it be Moore’s first game in charge of the Hertfordshire club, who appointed him as their manager at the start of May, but it will also somewhat surprisingly be the first time that Deal-born Sammy has been involved in a game at the Charles Ground during his long career which included playing in the Football League for AFC Wimbledon, Brentford and Leyton Orient as well as having two spells with Dover Athletic.
But now he is focussing on his latest challenge as the boss of the Tudors, who decided they needed a new man at the helm after finishing 16th in National League South last season under previous manager Joe Deeney.
This will be Sammy’s third managerial role. He was player-manager of Leatherhead for the 2017-18 season and, after impressing with the Bostik League club, was appointed boss of National League South Concord Rangers in May of last year. He guided the Essex club to a sixth-place finish but, due to Rangers failing to meet ground size requirements, they were barred from the play-offs and four days later Sammy stepped down as manager.
It didn’t take long though for Hemel’s ambitious chairman Dave Boggins to come knocking on Moore’s door and now he can’t wait to get this latest challenge under way. He said: “Hemel are a good club and, although they didn’t have a great time last season they were still getting gates of over 800 every week. Dave Boggins has been chairman for 21 years and he is determined to get them into the National League top division. We are putting a good squad together and I think we will be pushing for a play-off place minimum.”
Among the “new faces” that Sammy has brought in are two former Dover Athletic team-mates, Connor Essam and Tyrone Sterling, but it’s unlikely that Sammy will be playing alongside them again in the coming season even though he is still in his early 30s. He said: “I have registered myself as a player but I will probably only play if we get an injury-crisis. Trying to be a player-manager, as I’ve found out, is tough because there’s so much to take care of, especially on match days.”
And that will certainly be the case this Saturday, as Sammy revealed: “We are going to be fielding two full squads at Deal, one in each half, and they will include a number of trialists who want to have a look at.”
Sammy, who lives at Hawkinge, still makes regular visits to Deal for family reasons and is looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces on Saturday at the start of what he hopes will be another exciting chapter in his football career.