Luke Tuffs

LUKE Tuffs says that being named Knaphill’s new manager is the best thing that has happened to him during his football career.

Tuffs, previously head coach at Evo-Stik League South Premier Division South outfit Hartley Wintney, says he is determined to bring success to the Combined Counties League Premier Division club.

Knaphill’s new boss Luke Tuffs during his successful spell on the management team at Hartley Wintney

In an exclusive interview with the News & Mail, the 32-year-old came across as humbled to have been given the chance to lead Knaphill.

Having been part of the management team which guided The Row to a final position of eighth – ahead of more established neighbours Farnborough and Basingstoke Town – in Evo-Stik Premier South this season, he certainly brings to the Knappers some much-needed experience of the higher echelons of semi-pro football.

Acknowledging the wonderful times he experienced at Hampshire village club Hartley, UEFA B-licence coach Tuffs said: “Winning the Evo-Stik (East Division) play-offs at the first attempt (in 2018), the FA Cup run (in 2015) when we got close to the first round proper, knocking out teams from higher divisions, and getting to the fifth round of the FA Vase (in 2016) were great, but the best thing in my career was getting the Knaphill job.

“It’s my first manager’s job (at senior level) and I’ll do my best not to be out of every national cup competition by September or October!

“It’s very exciting and I’d love to emulate what happened at Hartley (the club won back-to-back promotions, climbing from the Combined Counties Premier to Evo-Stik Premier South).

“We didn’t say ‘We’re going to this’ or ‘We’re going to do that’ but we quietly went about our business. It was very much a group effort. We always had a strong group and worked together.”

So, realistically, can Knaphill match the achievements of near neighbours Westfield and become a force in the  Bostik League?

“Of course it’s possible,” said Tuffs, whose day job is Chertsey academy manager at Pulse Premier Football. 

“If we get things right and get people to buy into the club, who knows where we can go? It’s a cliché, but we’ll take each game as it comes.

“I’m going to bring in lots of players but I’m going to be fair to the players who are already at the club.

“I’ve spoken to a few and I’m going to speak to everyone. I’ll give a chance to any of them who want to be part of the group.

“The priority is the league, but as a club it would be great to have a cup run.”

Commenting on the appointment of Tuffs, who has coached in the US, Knaphill chairman David Freeman told the News & Mail: “We’re delighted to have Luke at the club.

“His ideas and coaching abilities are of real quality, and we’re looking forward to the season ahead.”

For the full interview get the 30 May edition of the News & Mail