MANAGER Steve Riley says he “didn’t need much persuading” to sign a year’s contract extension at AFC Totton.
Amid all the torrid times the club have endured over the last 18 months, former Navy man Riley has always gone about his business in an upbeat, professional manner.
And his positive contribution was recognised late last month when he, assistant Chris Ferrett and goalkeeping coach Steve Hollick penned deals to keep them with the Stags until May next year.
It was Totton’s way of saying thank you to the trio for standing loyally by the club when it would have been far easier to have walked away.
Riley had no idea of the rocky road that lay ahead when he signed a two-year contract for Totton in May 2012 following seven years at Bashley.
There were days when he must have yearned for an easier life, but he steadfastly rode the storm, knuckled down and saw the job through.
When the bulk of his senior squad jumped ship last summer with the club deep in the financial mire, he and his management team could so easily have followed them out of the door.
Instead, they stayed put and went again with a side of youngsters who finished the season so positively that even relegation from the Southern Premier Division couldn’t dent Riley’s optimism.
Reflecting on his contract extension, he said: “It was nice to hear the club saying thanks for staying during a time of adversity.
“I’m not one to jump ship and I can remember Andy Straker asking me to stay when everything had gone pear-shaped.
“Since Andy took over as chairman we’ve gone from strength to strength.
“Whatever he does, he’s always got the club at heart and there’s no hidden agenda with him.
“He and his right-hand man Roy (Edwards) are good to work with. If they tell you something is going to happen, it will happen, and I’m the same.
“We’ve got a good working relationship and we respect one another. I respect the way they’ve turned things round and they respect me for bringing young players through and they’ve seen how well the lads have responded.
“Football can be a cut-throat business and loyalty doesn’t count at some clubs, so it’s nice to be rewarded for a bit of loyalty to Totton.
“I always wanted to see my two-year contract through and I didn’t need much persuading to stay.
“Despite everything, I enjoyed last season, especially the last three months.”
With seven wins and four draws in their last 16 league matches, Riley’s young guns miraculously conjured up hope out of despair.
Given their poor start, Premier Division survival was always going to be a tall order, but the boss sees plenty of plus points going forward.
“The set-up and the facilities at Totton are fantastic, the people are friendly and we had a great, positive finish to the season,” he said.
“We’ve been relegated (to the Southern One South & West) but hopefully we can compete better at that level and maybe we’re taking one step back to move two forward.
“We had a meeting of volunteers last week and there are a lot of people around who want to help the club.
“With everyone pulling in the same direction the future could be bright.”