Ricky Hunter
Ricky Hunter

Newark Town’s playing start to the season has been delayed after manager Tony Joynes stepped down and his new assistant, Ricky Hunter, was named interim boss.

The Blues successfully asked the Central Midlands League to rearrange their first two matches in the North Division following the last-minute upheaval.

Their season, which should have started on Saturday at Tideswell United followed by a match against Clay Cross, will now begin on Saturday, August 19 with a home clash against Askern.

But general manager Gary Johnson, who said they could appoint a new first-team manager by the weekend, stressed it was business as usual at the club, whose first-team play home matches at Collingham’s Station Road ground.

“All other areas of the club are fully functioning and we fully expect to carry on,” he said.

“We still have a squad of 20-odd players signed on for the first team, despite losing a few.

“We will be okay and have got some good younger players coming through from the under-18s and under-21s.”

Johnson thanked the Central Midlands League for allowing the club to rearrange its first two fixtures.

Training will continue tonight at Devon Park at 6.30pm.

Interim manager Hunter, who only joined a few weeks earlier as coach to assist Joynes, said: “I said I would be happy to be interim manager until the club finds someone suitable as I am not sure if I am ready to take that role myself yet.

“I was hoping to learn my trade as an assistant manager and coach at this level at Newark, and then maybe step up as a manager eventually somewhere.

“But if everything goes well and I enjoy it, I might get a taste for being manager and be tempted to apply.

“I might not have enough experience yet, though, and would be happy to work with whoever the club brings in.

“The set-up is fantastic. There are a lot of good people here, the young lads are great and the coaching sessions I am getting to put on have gone well.”

'Total appreciation for what Tony has done'

Joynes said there were two major reasons behind his decision to leave, which was taken with great regret and a heavy heart.

He said he thought he had taken the Blues as far as he could, while the time spent running his family’s decorating business also had an impact.

Joynes had returned to his home-town club in May last year and guided them to a seventh-placed finish in the Central Midlands League North Division.

Town, who play home matches at Collingham’s Station Road ground, paid tribute to Joynes’ contribution over three periods at the club.

A spokesman said: “The club wishes to place on record its total appreciation for what Tony has done and achieved since he first took on the manager’s role, with Brett McNamara, when the club joined the Central Midlands League in 2004.

“Over three separate periods at the helm he has shown total commitment, often under difficult circumstances.”

Earlier in the summer joint manager Nicky Andersen, who had only joined Town in May after the departure of Simon Daws, stepped down.