A coaching restructure at Haverhill Rovers has seen Marc Abbott return to Rovers in a player/coach capacity while Rod Gaffan has crossed the divide from Borough to become Ben Cowling’s assistant.
Abbott left The New Croft outfit in the summer of 2015 after an almost ever present nine-season spell to link up with former team-mate Stuart Wardley at newly-promoted divisional rivals Saffron Walden Town.
The Haverhill-based 30-year-old continued to coach youngsters at Rovers on a Saturday morning though, and it was that involvement that saw a deal struck to combine his playing duties with taking training for the first team as well as combining his work with reserves and junior sides.
In other changes to the off-the-field team, manager Cowling has also been reunited with Gaffan as his new assistant, with the pair having worked together at Haverhill Borough, in place of the now departed Josh Shepherd, who had joined as number two in the summer before recently turning down a different role in the youth set-up.
Cowling said of Abbott’s return: “We were made aware he may be available and we put an approach in.
“It makes sense to from a club point-of-view as we are looking to tie together the youth section with the senior sides as much as we can.
“I have played with Marc and he has one of the most professional attitudes you can have for a modern-day footballer and that will hopefully rub off on the senior players.
“His playing experience is going to be beneficial to us as he was a captain over at Saffron Walden, so it is an all-round positive appointment for the club.”
Abbott joined Rovers from Newmarket Town in the summer of 2006 and quickly established himself as a first-choice player, going on to play 256 league matches, in which he found the net 29 times.
But the midfielder will have to wait for his second Rovers debut, being cup-tied for Wednesday’s Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup tie at Walsham-le-Willows (7.45pm) while he is away for the Boxing Day home game with his former club Saffron Walden (11am).
Cowling’s side go into their mid-week fixture on the back of a 2-0 defeat to runaway league leaders Mildenhall Town.
The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division club issued a statement on Friday that announced Shepherd’s departure, which came soon after he guided Rovers to four victories during Cowling’s recent holiday absence.
But Cowling explained a change in role had not been the direction Shepherd wanted to go.
“Josh Shepherd has left the club this week which is a shame as we offered him a different position in the club but he wanted to remain with the first team, so we went our separate ways.”
He added: “We are doing our best to help support him to find another job.”
The coaching restructure is completed with the arrival of goalkeeping coach Tim Jefferies, who had been working with step five side Biggleswade United.
* For more reaction and a preview to Boxing Day’s home game, see Thursday’s Haverhill Echo.