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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Know-how the key in Hill climb
By John May

Weymouth boss Garry Hill
Hill is looking to move onwards and upwards
Few managers know the Conference like Weymouth boss Garry Hill knows the Conference.

But having guided the Terras back into the division he knows so well for the first time in 17 years, Hill is keen to leave the comfort zone of familiar ground.

The manager who left Hornchurch after a financial collapse has found a chairman in Martyn Harrison to match his own ambition.

Together, they want to put Weymouth on the football map a few years before the eyes of the world focus on the base for the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

Hotelier Harrison has not been afraid to put his money where his mouth is, the cash is available to sustain Weymouth's full-time status and to bring in a quality of player which suggests mere survival is not on the agenda at the Wessex Stadium.

"This is a club with a lot of potential, it's probably underachieved and the chairman wants to take it in the right direction," says Hill.

Clubs likes ourselves and Exeter have a target and that's to get within reach of Yeovil

Weymouth boss Garry Hill

"Dorset might be considered a bit of a backwater, but the people down here are passionate about their football.

"There isn't a Football League club on the south coast between Bournemouth and Torquay, so the catchment area is there.

"The fan base here is encouraging. Three times last season we had crowds of 4,000-plus, which would be good in the Conference itself, let alone the Conference South.

"I suppose for our inspiration we have to look at Yeovil, who came through non-league football and have done superbly.

"Clubs likes ourselves and Exeter have a target and that's to get within reach of Yeovil."

Weymouth midfielder Nick Crittenden
Crittenden is a winner at Conference level

Hill took over at Weymouth from former Yeovil boss Gary Johnson's brother Steve, who in turn took over from Steve Claridge.

Former Portsmouth boss Claridge was unable to use that experience to hoist Weymouth into the Conference, and Hill was not entirely surprised.

"You get some people at this level who have played and managed in the Football League but this is a completely different type of football.

"Non-league is more physical, and there are players who are right for certain clubs and certain levels of football.

"I'd like to think we could get these sort of players in at Weymouth, players who will do a good job in the Conference and take us forward," said Hill, who likes to recruit winners.

"Tony James was captain of Hereford and part of a successful side and Ashley Vickers was with me at Dagenham.

"Andy Harris won the Conference with Chester, Nick Crittenden won it at Yeovil and Simon Weatherstone at Boston.

"These are not only experienced players but they're successful at this level as well," added Hill, who has also managed to get striker Raphael Nade back from Carlisle on a season-long loan.

I could say I would be happy with consolidation but I'm in there trying to it

Weymouth boss Garry Hill

Hill guided Dagenham & Redbridge to five successive top-five finishes in the Conference, and the way Weymouth started life back in the Conference suggests they are not interested in sticking around.

Ben Smith scored after just 10 seconds as the Terras went on to win 3-1 at Tamworth and Hill admitted: "I could say I would be happy with consolidation but I'm in there trying for my life to win it and be up there in the play-offs. But that's me as a person.

"To be realistic, the Conference is a competitive league. The clubs who have come out of the Football League will be competitive.

"We have to make sure we can consolidate, and we will learn quite a bit over the coming months.

"We're full-time, one of 20 clubs out of the 24 who are, and that shows and tells you how much the Conference has moved on in respect of ambition."

Tamworth 1-3 Weymouth
12 Aug 06 |  Non League
Hill relishing Conference return
26 Jul 06 |  Weymouth


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