PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies have announced that Gary Bottomley and Ryan Lawton will be their new development team management duo.
The pair have taken over from Rob Bonney, who recently stood down after four seasons as manager.
Bottomley and Lawton joined Argyle at the beginning of the 2019-20 season when the Pilgrims decided to have an under-18 team.
They had been at top Plymouth junior club SB Frankfurt for a number of years but after huge success winning numerous trophies the SB under-16 team had nowhere to go.
The pair agreed to take the players to the Pilgrims to form the Argyle under-18 team. Unfortunately, despite the side getting off to a good start in friendly games, the Devon under-18 league, which the team were entering, did not materialise so Lawton and Bottomley instead joined the Greens’ development side as coaches.
With Lawton and Bottomley getting involved it made Bonney’s decision to stand down an easier one as he knew the future of the side would be secure.
Bottomley, 44, who had trials with Watford and Reading when he was younger, is well known in local football circles having played for Plymstock United, Buckfastleigh, Saltash United and Stoke Gabriel.
He said: “We are really looking forward to this season. It’s given us a great opportunity to step into Rob’s (Bonney) shoes. We assisted him for the latter part of the season and learned quite a lot from him.”
A lot of Argyle’s development squad were the players that Bottomley and Lawton brought over from SB Frankfort after talks with director of football Trevor Rodd and first manager Dave Leonard.
Bottomley added: “We have worked together well with SB Frankfurt over the past few years and won almost every trophy along the way. After conversations with Trev we brought the girls over.
“We have done quite well as we have had a number of the girls go on to play for the first team.
“To be fair, we had only been involved in girls’ football before but when we joined the development team we learned a lot from Rob (Bonney). We can’t thank him enough as he has guided is through.
“We are now at the helm and we are going to have a go at it. The future is looking up and we have some great talent coming through as we managed to keep the majority of the girls and we want to try and keep the youngsters playing as much as we can.”
Lawton, whose daughter Libby made her senior debut just after her 16th birthday, is equally pleased at taking over. He said: “I would like to say first with Rob stepping down his shoes will be a challenge to fill as he has for the last four seasons done a great job.
“After being asked by Trev and Dave to fill this position with Gary we know it would be a tough one.”
Rodd added: “We are happy to welcome Ryan and Gary to the ladies’ set-up.
“Over the last season we have seen their transition into the senior game under the watchful eye of Rob Bonney.
“Both lads are measured in their approach and ethics on how they like the game to be played. They are also happy to listen to advice and continue with their coaching qualifications which they will be supported with.
“They are vastly successful in the junior game and have worked with most of the development squad before.
“They are a great addition to the coaching team and I know they will represent the club’s traditions with pride and respect.”
First team manager Leonard was equally pleased. He said: “I think it is a great appointment and I’m pleased for them. We are disappointed to lose Rob but we need to move on.
“They have brought some good girls with them, they have a good track record and it’s good news for the future.”
Argyle’s development team will have another Cornish club in their division next season after St Austell were elected into the South West League Western Division.
St Austell are managed by former Argyle development coach Simon Parnell and include former Argyle players Issy Berks, Tori Marks and Charley Rollerson in their ranks.