“Colchester United is a big part of my life” – Director of Football Tony Humes
- Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd
Colchester United, a club steeped in past glories and past disappointments, can get in the blood, and it’s certainly in the blood of Tony Humes.
Former manager Humes, who parted company with the struggling U’s in November, returned to the Essex club at the start of March, to take on the newly-established post of Director of Football.
The 50-year-old has quietly got on with his job, over the last couple of months, putting the structure in place that paved the way for John McGreal to be appointed the new head coach, last Wednesday.
Humes kept himself in the background, while his immediate successor Kevin Keen attempted, but ultimately failed, to keep the U’s in League One – Keen left the Community Stadium last week.
But Humes, the former Ipswich Town and Wrexham centre-half, was alongside chairman and owner, Robbie Cowling, and McGreal, when the latter was unveiled as the new boss last week.
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It had been a painful experience for Humes to part company with the U’s as first team manager, six months ago – the club had just been beaten 3-2 at home by Crewe and were sinking towards the relegation zone – but he has always had the backing of chairman Cowling, and is now relishing his new role.
“It was not a difficult decision for me to come back, it was an easy decision,” explained Humes.
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“When I left the football club, it was a hard decision and it was a sad day for myself, because I had been involved with the football for a long time.
“Colchester United is a big part of my life.
“Robbie (Cowling) wanted me to stay involved and allowed me a certain amount of thinking time over what was the next step, and how we could progress and change things. In the end, I think it was a very easy decision to come back, and over the last few months it’s been a case of trying to work hard to put things in place, with the right structure, to have a good base to build on.
“It’s not going to be a quick fix, and it’s still very much a long-term plan, but we have ambition to progress at first team level because that is every football club’s aim.
“Even though it’s been a disappointing season, we must look to rectify that and make things better for next season.
“From any negative experience, you always gain strength from it and you want to think – ‘how can I make things better?’
“Robbie has given me the opportunity to come back, in this respect, and work with John, being involved with the first team but also to support the other staff around.
“The Academy is still a massive part of the football club, we still need to progress and make sure we have the right personnel in that, because there have been a lot of graduations of staff from there into the first team environment.
“So we have to make sure that the Academy does not get neglected. That’s a big part of my role. It’s not just about the first team, its the whole football club, to try and draw from the experiences I have had.
“We need to keep building to make sure the long-term future of the football club is strong,” added Humes.
Humes has been with the U’s since 2009. He was first-team manager for 15 months from the start of September, 2014 and helped to mastermind a dramatic final day escape from relegation with a 1-0 home win over Preston, almost exactly a year ago.
Reflecting on his return to the club, Humes continued: “It’s strange.
“If you look at it, there are not many occurrences when ex-managers go back.
“There have been a few recently, of clubs doing similar things, like QPR with Chris Ramsey, who has gone back as a director of football.
“It does happen, but it’s unusual that you get that trust from somebody like Robbie. It’s fantastic.”