New Keith manager Craig Ewen says his time working under Forres Mechanics boss Charlie Rowley has provided him with the perfect apprenticeship for going it alone.
Ewen has taken charge at Kynoch Park on a three-year deal, succeeding co-managers Tommy Wilson and Andy Roddie ,who stepped down earlier this month.
It follows a five-year stint working as part of Rowley’s backroom team at Mosset Park.
Having previously been in charge at junior sides Deveronside and Buchanhaven Hearts, Ewen feels he is ready for the chance to manage in the Highland League.
Ewen said: “I’ll be forever in Charlie’s debt for taking a chance on me. He’s been in that job a good length of time, so he’s been a mentor-type figure for me.
“I’ve seen how he conducts himself as a manager and how he does things. What I’ve learned at Forres has made me more well-rounded as a manager and coach.
“Over the last year or two I’ve had that ambition to manage at Highland League level, so it was an opportunity that was too good to turn down. I feel I’m ready to make the step into the management role.”
Ewen hopes to get off to a winning start when the Maroons face Huntly at Christie Park on Saturday, and he added: “I know a lot about the history of Keith, and they’ve certainly had glory days and glory eras.
“It’s an exciting challenge for me. They have had a poor start in the league, the fixtures they have had in the league have been very tough.
“My aim is to try and win games of football and start climbing that league table and moving away from the bottom.
“I just need to try and get in and work hard to galvanise the young squad. They had a great result last week against Locos so there is obviously something there to work with.”
Huntly have faced disruption in the build up to the match, after a player tested positive for Covid-19, which caused the postponement of Wednesday’s Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup tie against Formartine United.
A further two players are self-isolating, however, four players who are double vaccinated have been cleared to play after returning negative PCR tests.
Huntly boss Allan Hale said: “It’s been a challenging week, I don’t think there’s any hiding place from that.
“There has been a lot of correspondence with the various authorities. The safety and wellbeing of all our players as well as opposition players is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“This just serves as a reminder the virus is still there. As a club we have followed the protocols as stringently as possible.
“Unfortunately a case has appeared, which can happen when you’re working with part-time players.
“We have been quite fortunate, this is the first instance we have had, but the club has reacted superbly well to mitigate as much risk as possible.”