Steven Cunningham has admitted he didn’t even realise his first match as Buxton FC manager would be against York City in the FA Cup First Round before taking the job, but is delighted to be in charge of the Derbyshire club.
By Amos Murphy
Cunningham picking up pieces at high-flying Buxton
Having left his role as Curzon Ashton manager after just over a year in charge last month, Steven Cunningham was announced as Buxton FC boss just days after managerial duo Gary Hayward and Mark Ward were sacked.
Buxton had enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign under Hayward and Ward, having gone unbeaten in their first 14 Northern Premier League Premier Division matches.
Such form has seen the Bucks emerge as one of the league’s favourites for automatic promotion and Cunningham believes he can be the man to take the Derbyshire club to the National League North:
“I was planning to stay in the division I was already in, as I had worked hard to get there.
“But when I got the phone call from the chairman, you always as a manager want to be someone’s man and when they told me they weren’t advertising the role because they wanted me, I couldn’t turn this opportunity down.
“It was the project that’s here. I wanted to stay in the league above, but I firmly believe with this group of players and this team we can get there quite soon”.
Swift move to Buxton for cunning Cunningham
It would have been easy for Buxton given the position they were in for the club to stutter post-Hayward and Ward, yet the swift appointment of Cunningham quickly settled the ship.
In his maiden game in the Bucks' dugout, Cunningham oversaw a historic 1-0 victory over fifth-tier York City in the FA Cup First Round, with the former Curzon manager not even realising that would be the first game in charge:
“Look at the facilities, the league position, the squad, and I didn’t even realise the first game was York in the FA Cup. That’s just topped it off for me”.
A second-half strike from talisman Diego De Girolamo secured the Bucks’ progression to the FA Cup Second Round for the first time in their history, where the Derbyshire side have been drawn against League One Morecambe.
De Girolamo was once again on target in Cunningham’s first home match in charge, where his side ran out 2-0 winners over Atherton Collieries and the new Buxton manager is relishing the challenge that lies ahead:
“I’m not a manager that wants the big budgets, or the glitz and glamour of the fancy stadiums, I just want to be someone’s man.
“I know what it takes to galvanise a team, I’ll get the fans on side and I’m here to ingrain myself in the fabric of a football club”.
Cunningham looking to put personal touch on Buxton squad
Whilst quick to praise the quality already within the Buxton squad, Cunningham has revealed he will be looking to make some additions to the squad in the coming weeks:
“In terms of squad numbers, we’re threadbare. Lads are playing at 60%, so we’re going to need a couple of bodies in.
“What I will say is I’ve seen exceptional team spirit that was already here, so I don’t need to create that, I’ll just be looking to add my little bit of personality on the team”.
Cunningham spoke warmly of the reception he’s received from the Buxton board and opened up about their plans to bring players in:
“I’ll be having a meeting with the board to look at a couple of options, which we’ll be forced into due to the injuries.
“I’ll be looking at bringing in three players or so, even if it is just to top up the squad for a short period maybe.
“We won’t be looking to make wholesale changes, because these lads have earned the right to take this team forward, so one or two, three maximum just to help us out”.
Sky the limit for Cunningham and bouncing Bucks
A whirlwind seven days concluded with a welcome three points at the Tarmac Silverlands Stadium against Atherton for Buxton, with Cunningham labelling the past week as one of his busiest in the game:
“It’s been a little bit of a crazy seven pay period, but it’s been good and this is football, so I’m used to it and you can’t turn this opportunity down”.
It hasn’t taken long for the new boss to endear himself to the Buxton faithful, with Cunningham recognising how crucial building a relationship with supporters is to success:
“Everywhere I’ve gone so far, people have stopped me and wished me success.
“I can’t thank them enough, everyone has been so positive. I’ve got the backing of a fantastic chairman, whose heart and soul is this football club and its place in the community”.
Buxton will continue their assault on the top of NPL Premier Division when they face Hyde United this weekend, before taking on Morecambe in three weeks’ time.
Photography: Lee Parker / @lardyc7 (Twitter) / Website
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