Date: Thu 25 May 2023

By Steve Whitney

Evesham Appoint New Assistant Boss & Make Two New Signings

Pitching In Southern League Division One South club Evesham United have announced the appointment of Alex Sykes as their new assistant manager.

(Photo: Levi Steele and Toby Raison with manager Mike Ford, assistant manager Alex Sykes and vice chairman Ged Bearcroft)

(Photo: Levi Steele and Toby Raison with manager Mike Ford, assistant manager Alex Sykes and vice chairman Ged Bearcroft)

Sykes moves to the Spiers & Hartwell Stadium, replacing Anton Sambrook, who has left the club.

Sykes will be no stranger to supporters having recently managed Cinderford Town.

Manager Mike Ford told his club’s website: “I lost my number two Anton, who did a brilliant job for me. He is a fantastic fellow and the best man at my wedding. He has not moved on to anything in football, as he can no longer make the commitment for next season. I wish him all the best.

“I have taken Alex from Cinderford Town, where he did a good job in difficult circumstances. I didn’t know him particularly well, I liked him as a man and a football person from the conversations we had. I am really looking forward to working with him as he has lots of experience and was a good player in his own right. He knows the players at this level and I think we are lucky to have him.”

Sykes added: “I had a telephone call from Mike Ford just after I resigned from Cinderford and we got together to have a conversation.

“Certainly Mike’s experience is something I can learn from. We are both in education but there is an old adage, every day is a learning day! Evesham has been on my radar for some time. I live relatively locally and I was in for the manager’s job not so long back, before taking the Cinderford job.

“It was an easy decision to make. I know a lot about the club, previously being at Gloucester City. Evesham are now ready to go up the steps.

“I have been here loads of times and know the set up. There is good support, especially having experienced it first hand as an opposition manager and also when seeing games when not involved.

“The chance to work with Mike was a bit of a no brainer, with me knowing him for a long time, but not being close necessarily. After various conversations, it was pivotal for me to try and help add value to what Mike is doing. Being in the locality means I know the local players. Certainly my coaching style will help and for the point of view for the gaffer, also being able to bounce ideas of somebody else who has been in that position, having managed over 400 games at this level and played at two, three, four levels above. I am hoping the experience I have got will help complement what is there with the gaffer and Byrnie, that’s the plan really.

“As a manager I feel like I have done three YTS’s! At Bishop’s Cleeve, Shortwood United, including the FA Cup run and some backing, and Cinderford, a tough job for different reasons. It is pleasing to come into a setup that is ripe and ready”.

Evesham also announced two new players who have agreed to join for the 2023/24 season.

Forward Levi Steele and defender Toby Raison have both put pen-to-paper for the Robins.

Steele ended last season with Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One side Pershore Town, who he moved to in March 2023 and scored 9 goals in 12 games, helping them to win the league title.

He had joined Pershore from North Leigh, who he had moved to in February 2022 from United Counties League Premier Division South neighbours Easington Sports.

He is a prolific scorer who certainly know where the back of the net is and was also highly sought after.

He has previously played for Hook Norton and Southam United, with whom he had an impressive scoring record.

The Saints at the time were playing in the Hellenic League Division Two North and he bagged 57 goals in just 36 competitive games for them.

Hellenic League Division One side FC Stratford secured the services of the forward ahead of the current 2021/22 season and in 19 appearances this season, he scored 16 goals, as he swiftly adapted to playing Step 6 football.

That form prompted Easington Sports to come calling and he accepted their offer, moving to the Clan at the end of November 2021.

He made 10 appearances for the Banbury-based outfit, scoring an impressive 12 goals in doing so before heading to North Leigh.

Raison is a 21-year-old former Hereford FC academy graduate.

He signed his first professional contract with the Vanarama National League North club in 2019.

The central defender began training with the first-team squad during the 2019/20 season and continued to make spectacular progress.

Quick to acknowledge his local roots with the under-18’s and the academy when he was younger, he spent time on loan at Merthyr Town and Bromsgrove Sporting in 2021/22 and then moved to then-Southern Premier Division South outfit Yate Town in June 2022.

On the two new signings, Ford said: “I am looking forward to working with Levi. Unfortunately I could not get him in towards the end of last season when he became available. He knows the level and has achieved promotion in 2021/22 with North Leigh. He gets goals, is physically good and will run through a brick wall for you, and on top of that he is a great lad.”

“I tried to sign Toby for St Ives Town when he became available as a loan from Hereford, I could not get it done. Alex my number two also tried to get him in at Cinderford Town but could not get that completed either. He played a number of games last year at Step 3, which would have helped his development. He is good physically, tall, and will without doubt make us better and put pressure on lads in the team to play well. So two good signings. It feels we are better with them in the squad, than we were last year.”

Evesham United Web Site

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