Craig Tanner wants to bring the feel-good vibe back to Tooting & Mitcham after being named as their new manager.
The 27-year-old began his playing career at the Terrors and was their youngest ever captain at 18, but after spells at Sutton United, Hampton & Richmond and Met Police, he was forced to retire in December due to a long-standing knee problem.
But now he has taken his first steps into management with the Terrors, taking them over after a season of turmoil that saw three managers and a flirtation with relegation before a 16th-place finish in Ryman Division One South.
A potential takeover did not materialise this summer and a sense of gloom had descended on Imperial Fields – one that Tanner is determined to lift.
“I think there is great potential at Tooting & Mitcham – the club is a sleeping giant,” he said.
“They have the facilities and the academy is doing well so we can use that, get the academy players in pre-season training and get the club feeling back.
“If we get the team staying after games and organise regular events where supporters and players can mix together with friends and family then we can bring that feeling back.
“It is what I experienced when I was at the club and I know it works well as I have had it at other clubs too.
“At Hampton, all the players’ family and friends would be there and it really built the atmosphere up.
“But this is a long term rather than short-term fix.”
Despite his age and lack of managerial experience, Tanner, a PE teacher, is confident his recent knowledge of the Ryman Leagues and those that play in it will help bring back the glory days.
“My age will probably raise a few eyebrows but the players that have played with me and against me know I have always had this about me,” he added.
“I have been captain at quite a few of the clubs I have been at and, hopefully, I can transfer those skills to the dressing room.
“I have known managers that like to scream and shout and that’s not me, I would like to think I will be pretty laid back but it will depend on the situation.
“I have experienced a lot of different managers and different players and I have learned a lot from them over the years.”