Darin Killpartrick says he is enjoying being back in non-league football - even though he didn’t miss it during his year off.
The man they call Dabba has joined the management team at Chichester City as they plan for life at a higher level following their promotion to the south-east division of the Isthmian League.
It follows a season out of the non-league game for Killpartrick, who left Bognor at the end of the 2017-18 season after nearly 20 years and 1,000 games on the staff at Nyewood Lane.
“After so long at one club, going to a different club feels strange in a way but I’ve been made to feel very welcome at Chichester City by the staff, players and club as a whole,” said Killpartrick.
“I knew during my final season at Bognor I wanted a year out, and I can’t say I missed non-league football because that time off because it gave me time to do things I’d not had time to do.
“I went on study trips to Colombia and to Juventus and went to watch quite a number of Premier League and Football League games. It also gave me more time to spend with my family.”
Killpartrick’s switch to Oaklands Park came about largely through him knowing Danny Potter – also a coach at City – and Chi bosses Miles Rutherford and Graeme Gee had no hesitation in offering Killpartrick a role.
He believes the four of them have different strengths that can combine to get the best out of City’s young, hungry squad as they look to build on their Southern Combination title-winning season.
Their first aim is to see if they can stay in their new division despite having a much smaller budget than many clubs in that league.
Chi City began their programme of friendlies with a 2-0 win away to an Isle of Wight rep side on Saturday and noe go to Arundel for their next test on Saturday.
Killpartrick said: “I think the four of us work well together. But Miles and Gee make the final decisions – Danny and I are very much on the coaching side.
“I’ve got experience of this league and I can hope I can use that to help the players and the whole club adapt.
“It’s a massive step up going from the county league to the Isthmian and we’ve not got money to spend. But one of the things that attracted me to the club is that Miles has put together a hungry bunch of young playes. They’re keen to do well and keen to learn.
“I can see from the training we’ve done and the one game we’ve played there’s lots to be positive about. But there are many things to work on as well.
“One thing I can promise is that we’ll be a fit team. That’s very important, especially for a team moving up to the Isthmian from the league below. We mustn’t let fitness be a factor that works against us.”
Killpartrick has also been reappointed as coach of the England Colleges under-18 team for the 19-20 season – it’s a role he savours and one that gives local talents a chance to reach the national stage.
He will have a reunion with his old team on Tuesday, July 30, when Chi City face Bognor in the Sussex Community Shield at Lancing, the annual clash between the SCFL winners and Sussex Senior Cup holders.
Meanwhile City manager Rutherford said he was happy with how his squad was coming together. Most of last season’s SCFL title winners have stayed while forward Callum Overton – who scored one of the goals on the island – and Lloyd Rowlatt are among those boosting the ranks.