Gordon Staniforth says it is a ‘dream come true’ to be named Doncaster Rovers Belles manager, writes Hayley Paterson.
The former Hull City, York City, Carlisle United and Plymouth Argyle striker this week accepted the head coach role following the departure of long-serving manager John Buckley.
In an exclusive interview with the Free Press, the 56-year-old said he could not wait to get started with the WSL2 club and that one of his priorities includes keeping players such as Sue Smith and Leandra Little.
The pair are among several players yet to commit their futures to the club.
“These players are top of my list, I want to secure them for another season,” said Staniforth.
“In my view they are not going anywhere and they are a big part of my plans.”
The FA coach added: “This role is a dream come true for me, I’m absolutely delighted.
“I had been thinking about working in the Women’s Super League since it was established so to be at the Belles, I’m just delighted.
“I know all about the Belles’ history and have worked with Julie (Chipchase - Belles director of football) for a number of years so I know what is expected of me.
“I really buy into what Doncaster Rovers Belles are trying to do here.
“I know there isn’t a massive budget, it will be a case of rebuilding but I really can’t wait to get into the role.”
Hull-born Staniforth, who was an FA coach mentor for Chipchase, said he would be looking to appoint an assistant manager.
He will continue his technical director duties at the York Centre of Excellence and wants to create a link between the two to help youth talent progress - just like the paths taken by York and Belles duo Jemma Purfield and Ellie Wilkinson who have just been selected for England Under 17s duty.
The former Leeds United coach is also father to Super League player Lucy Staniforth who currently plays for Bristol.
“I’ve spoken to Lucy and asked her what it would take for her to come to the Belles already!” he said.
“She’s chuffed to bits for me. I really can’t wait to get started now.”