THE appointment of Hampshire wicketkeeper Adie Aymes as manager of a Southern League football club has a strange ring about it.

But as ex-Saints tough guy Mark Dennis revealed this week, Aymes was no mean footballer either - in fact he was on Joe Jordan's wanted list as a midfielder for Bristol City.

Speaking in a week that has seen the pair named as surprise successors to Steve Beeks at Eastern Division outfit Fleet Town, 41-year-old Dennis recalled: "When Joe left The Dell to go to Bristol City, he phoned me about Adie and was interested in signing him.

"But by that time Adie had already had a contract with Hampshire and had picked cricket as his sport."

Aymes, though, did play non-league for clubs like Gosport, Havant and the old AFC Lymington and, even at the age of 38, the all-rounder's fitness remains a sight to behold.

Training promises to be quite an experience for the Fleet lads with Dennis enthusing: "Adie's absolutely fantastic in that department. He's got a gym in his house in Bitterne and he's the fittest man you'll see in Hampshire. I reckon the Fleet boys will be really impressed when they see his body. Whatever he asks them to do, I can guarantee he'll do twice as much."

Although adored by Saints fans, defender Dennis - a bargain £30,000 buy from Birmingham City in 1983 - was let down by indiscipline and left The Dell four years later after a series of run-ins with manager Chris Nicholl.

Nowadays he is back on the Saints scene coaching at the Academy and combines that with running a building business.

One of his old Saints muckers, Mark Wright, remains among his closest friends and it's possible that one day Dennis will hitch up with the former England defender.

"Mark offered me a job when he was at Oxford United, but he didn't stay there and he's at Chester now," he said. "We speak together once a week and it's possible we'll work together one day, so Fleet's a nice stepping stone for me.

"It's handy knowing Mark because he's got a big pull in the game and I'm sure he'd loan us a player or two on the cheap. Hopefully Adie and I can pull off a little miracle at Fleet."

Neither new manager can make Fleet's FA Trophy preliminary round tie at home to Epsom & Ewell tomorrow, but they will officially meet the players at their first training session next Thursday.