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Cray Wanderers stun fans by appointing ex-National League manager

Cray Wanderers stun their fans by appointing ex-National League manager Neil Smith, who was most recently in charge of Bromley.

The Isthmian League Premier Division outfit make Smith their third manager of the season, replacing Grant Basey and are hoping this can help them avoid relegation.

Cray currently sit 20th out of 22 teams, and have 32 points from 36 games played, with Leatherhead in 21st on 25 points and East Thurrock bottom on 24 points with a game in hand.

A club statement said: “Cray Wanderers Football Club are delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Smith as our new manager.

“Neil comes with a wealth of experience in non-league football having most recently managed our landlords Bromley FC, taking them to Wembley in the process.

“We would like to thank Grant Basey and Gary Alexander for the excellent work that they did as interims during a very difficult period for the club and we would like to wish them all the best for the future.”



Youth career
1990–1991 – Tottenham Hotspur

Senior career
1991–1997 – Gillingham – 213 games (10 goals)
1997–1999 – Fulham – 75 games (1 goal)
1999–2002 – Reading – 64 games (3 goals)
2002 – Stevenage – 8 games (0 goals)
2002–2007 – Woking – 142 games (5 goals)
2007–2008 – Welling United
2008 – Bromley
2008 – Maidstone United


2007 – Woking (interim)
2007–2008 – Welling United
2011–2016 – Bromley (assistant)
2016 – Bromley (interim)
2016–2021 – Bromley
2022 – Cray Wanderers

Neil Smith was left gutted as he opened up to the Non League Paper about that shock much talked about sacking by Bromley earlier this season.

At the time of his departure, the Ravens had been sitting 7th and in the National League playoffs – fast forward to today and they are 10th.

It was a decision that has left supporters stunned, considering where they are in the table and how he’s done at the club after five years in charge.

Speaking with the Non League Paper, he said: “I’ve taken in what happened now. You’ve got to move on and you’ve got to be positive.

“The best thing that has come out of it and I am humbled by it, is the response I’ve have from other managers, other clubs, and people in football all saying ‘Be proud of what you’ve done”.

“It’s reassuring people outside of Bromley have appreciated what we’ve done as well.

“All I’ve ever wanted is to make sure the supporters are proud at their football club. And the owners are proud of what we are doing.

“Other than that, your full focus is us, your players and your club.

“When you step away, you actually hear what people think about when you played them, that they always knew that’ll get a tough game. I’d never asked people what they think of us. I’m just solely concerned with my players performing the best they can.

“It gives you a boost to hear that because you think you must be doing something right.

“When we went into the National League, it as always going to be difficult because we were part-time – or semi part-time – and coming up against these big clubs we’d really ever draw in the FA Cup. To all of a sudden to be against them every week.

“But the club has grown. It’s an amazing place. it is set up to go into the Football League. The chairman’s plans are amazing. I’m probably just frustrated I can’t be there to see it through because they’ve got some fantastic plans and it’s a great environment to work with the players.

“I don’t take responsibility myself. Mark Hammond, my assistant manager and head of academy just grew it.

“I had to just make sure I was there supporting him making sure we were doing the assemblies together – making sure Bromley got on the map.

“The reason people want to go to the club now is beaches the first team is going well, they can see pathways. But that’s been a gradual incline for the last five years.

“The love for the club is never going to go away. It is my local club. I was very proud and honoured when they gave me the job and I gave it everything I’ve got.

“The one thing someone said to when you leave a club, make sure it is in a better position than when you walked into it. I think it is.

“From top to bottom, there is a foundation through the youth section, the academy, U23s, to the first team. I’ve given it everything I’ve got. I can’t have given it anymore.

“I can understand if you’ve been bottom of the table and it’s been constant pressure pressure pressure.

“It’s not been like that. I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks. The team had a bit of form, we were doing well and I could really see us pushing in and around those play-offs.

“So now I am out of it, I’m not, ‘Oh I just needed to get away’. I’m in the mode of ‘I want to get back in’.

“The last four weeks the team were more consistent, players had come back from injury, and we were gaining that little bit of momentum. So I didn’t need the rest.

“Unfortunately that decision was taken out of my hands. I will enjoy the sun while it is out and the relaxation of lockdown to see some family and friends. But ass soon as the right thing comes along I’ll jump straight back in.

“This time last year I was sitting in the back garden because there was a national lockdown. A year later I’m doing the same. So it’s weird in that respect because since I left school I’ve been in football. I love the banter, i love getting ready for games, for training, preparing to do your best.

“I love being on the coaching side, being ready for the next game. Especially when it is your local club. i am literally five minutes away from the club. You could feel the atmosphere ready for games, So that Saturday if getting ready for games will be a big loss – but hopefully not for too long.”

As mentioned, Cray Wanderers stun fans by appointing the ex-National League manager…

@mummabear007: Yes @neil_smudge will definitely be coming to support you! 🥰🥰🥰

@SandyCocoHarmer: Incredible appointment from a progressive club!

@74bunick: Great appointment, good luck @neil_smudge #COYW 🟠⚫️

@AlexBromleyfc: @neil_smudge fantastic Neil, best wishes on your new job and hope to get down to see you back in action 👍

@LeeWorgan: What a managerial appointment this is! @neil_smudge

@BradfordChazb: Did wonder my Smudger had been at a lot of Cray home games. Now we know! Great appointment but only if he keeps the Wands up!

@PehaugheyPaul: Good luck @neil_smudge. Great appointment.

@colinhead70: Wow! Great appointment.

@supershilly: Good luck Smudger

@TonyPot15280928: Top man and a great appointment

@LEEBIRCH: Outstanding appointment in getting @neil_smudge in. A proper class act of a fella and top manager. 👏🏻 Big mention to my old mate @29gazalex and the super job he did in steering the ship these last few months ❤️

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