Ely is a city and deserves a football club that reflects that fact, says manager Brady Stone

Ely City manager Brady Stone. Picture: Helen Drake

Ely City manager Brady Stone. Picture: Helen Drake - Credit: Archant

Manager Brady Stone says Ely is a city and its football club should reflect that fact as he begins to put together a squad that he hopes can challenge at the right end of the table next season.

Brady, at just 28, was named the manager of Ely City just two months before the end of a season of struggle. He replaced Alan Alsop, who stepped down with the club facing a relegation battle.

But Brady enjoyed his first taste of management and can’t wait to get going again in August.

“The players proved in the last couple of months that they are good enough,” he said. “I have spoken to most of them now and six or seven will be staying and we will be looking to add 10 or so more.

“It’s a rebuilding job and we are looking at bringing in younger players who will play a good and attacking style of football.

“Ely is a City and it deserves a football club that reflects that fact. The football club should be fighting for leagues and cups.”

Only Diss Town, Wivenhoe Town and Woodbridge Town finished below Ely in the Premier Division of the Eastern Counties League. The season before they were mid-table but in 2011-12 they finished second to Wroxham but were not promoted. So, there has been a definite decline in recent seasons.

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Stone, who played for Ely for five years before leaving for spells with King’s Lynn Town and Littleport Town, returned as manager of the reserves and it was a surprise when he was asked to step up to the first team on Alsop’s departure.

“It was interesting but tough,” he said. “Being a manager is definitely something I thought I would do in the future but it wasn’t something I was considering doing at 28.

“But you take these opportunities and the boys worked hard and we avoided relegation.”

Ben Lawrence was Alsop’s assistant and he stayed on to help out Stone, but tweeted recently: “I have regretfully declined Brady Stone’s offer to continue on as manager-player of Ely City”. So Stone’s first priority is to fill that vacancy.

He said: “Ben came back to help out Alan so now I am trying to find a new assistant. Then we will begin to start thinking about players.”

One look at the club’s pre-season fixture lists shows they mean business. There are games against teams – including neighbours Soham Town Rangers and Cambridge City – that will be testing.

“It will be a tough pre-season but that is what we need,” said Stone.

Pre-season fixtures

July 12 (3pm) – Cherry Hinton away; July 22 (7.45) – Soham Town Rangers at home; July 26 (3pm) – King’s Lynn Town Reserves at home; July 29 (7.45pm) – Cambridge City at home; August 2 (3pm) – Hardwick away.