Player-boss hails 'a great coach' as new era begins at Soham Town Rangers

Erkan Okay and Robbie Mason at Soham Town Rangers FC

Robbie Mason (right) has hailed former player-assistant Erkan Okay as "a great coach" after the latter left Soham Town Rangers. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Robbie Mason has praised a friend and “a great coach” as their four-and-a-half-year spell together at Soham Town Rangers came to an end. 

Player-assistant Erkan Okay left his role on December 9 in favour of a move to Isthmian League North side Stowmarket Town, ending his time at Julius Martin Lane. 

“We’ve kept the club stable, had some very good players and he’s a great coach,” said Mason. 

“We never had a disagreement in four-and-a-half years and it will be different with him not there. 

“It’s been a successful period for us.” 

Okay, a former England C international, arrived at Soham in 2017 after stints at Royston Town, Lowestoft Town and Histon. 

In a statement, the former AFC Sudbury player, who made 67 appearances for Soham, cited a change in personal circumstances and was unable to “fully commit to the role as much as I’d like. 

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“And with the results going the way they have, a fresh approach is needed. 

“Me and Rob have shared the same views on everything and have always had a strong relationship, and it was tough to part ways with him.” 

Okay added: “There is a very good young squad here, and if they come through this season the future is bright for the club.” 

Matt Clements with Sam Mulready after Soham's FA Trophy win

Matt Clements (right) has now taken up an assistant manager role after the departure of Erkan Okay. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Mason, who will now be assisted by Matt Clements, began a new era by ending a nine-game losing run at promotion chasers Stamford in the Northern Premier League Division One Midlands. 

Goals from Joe Carden and Alfie Connor earned a 2-2 draw at the Zeeco Stadium on Saturday, but the point was not the most pleasing aspect from the game. 

“One of the comments from their bench was ‘why are they working harder than us?’ and I thought that was the most pleasing thing to come out of that game,” Mason said. 

“Yes, we have hopefully turned a corner but the pleasing thing was their management team asked the question. 

“It was a performance we’ve been looking for a long while; we went into it in the right mindset. 

“We could have gone to the same mentality of ‘not again’, but we were determined and had the work rate to get something from the game.” 

Soham will go for just a second home league game this season against Sutton Coldfield Town this Saturday, 3pm. 

*Ryan Gibbs struck for Ely City who lost 2-1 at Kirkley & Pakefield in the Eastern Counties Premier Division last weekend.

Ely, who play FC Parson Drove in a rearranged Cambs Invitation Cup first round tie at the Demcom Stadium tonight, 7.45pm, then visit March Town on December 27, 11am.