Hucknall Town appoint ex-Stags boss and World Cup star

NMAC11-0612-19'Stags v Luton'Duncan Russell
NMAC11-0612-19'Stags v Luton'Duncan Russell

Beleaguered Hucknall Town have turned to former Mansfield Town boss Duncan Russell as their new manager.

Russell (55), who guided Mansfield to Wembley for the FA Trophy final in 2011, was appointed this week on a part-time basis.

His assistant will be former professional Paul Hall (40), who won 41 international caps with Jamaica and played in the 1998 World Cup.

The duo face a monumental task in restoring the fortunes of Town, who finished bottom of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South last season and suffered their third relegation in five years.

They have dropped into the Northern Counties East League for the first time since 1998 and now sit only two non-league levels above fellow Dispatch district outfits, Bulwell and Linby Colliery Welfare.

However, The Yellows are delighted to have attracted such a high-profile duo to Watnall Road.

“We are over the moon, and we think Duncan and Paul will work wonders,” said caretaker chief executive Liz Morley.

“They have a lot of experience and view the job as a long-term project.

“They have a clean canvas to work from and have lots of fresh ideas. They can see the potential we have here.”

Russell made his name as a coach during a 22-year stint in the Army.

After breaking into the professional game, he was a successful coach and physio at Derby County, Walsall, Wolves, MK Dons and Blackburn Rovers before becoming manager David Holdsworth’s assistant at Mansfield in 2010.

When Holdsworth was sacked, he took over as boss, but left after The Stags lost 1-0 at Wembley to Darlington. Since then, he has been scouting for various clubs.

He met up with Hall while at Walsall and made him his number two at Field Mill.

Hall enjoyed an illustrious playing career, making more than 600 appearances for 13 clubs, including 188 at Portsmouth between 1993 and 1998. And after impressing at the World Cup, he was signed for £300,000 by Gordon Strachan at Coventry City. In recent months, he has been coaching at Tamworth in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Russell accepted that the duo faced a stiff challenge. But he vowed: “We will definitely give it a good crack. Nothing is insurmountable when you put the right things in place.

“It’s not an overnight fix. But I’m not scared of a challenge.

“I’m sure that if we do it the right way, we can bring a bit of success back to the club, which should breed more interest among the fans.”

Russell said he was confident he and Hall had the contacts to build a team and promised to give local talent a chance.

He also wanted to bolster the club’s involvement with the local community, and spoke of trying to generate fresh sponsorship and investment to help fend off the club’s dire financial problems.

Russell was convinced too that the bubbly Hall will quickly become a favourite with Yellows supporters.

“He’s very dedicated, very professional and very knowledgeable,” enthused Russell.

“He’s a very good coach and brings a wealth of experience to the club. There can’t be many assistant managers at this level of football who have played in a World Cup!”