Former Saint Albans boss Gray dusts off his boots to join the Comrades

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Former St Albans City FC joint-manager Jimmy Gray has joined Berkhamsted FC in a playing capacity, with ex-Saints development manager Mark Swales also heading to Broadwater as a coach.

Swales made the decision to leave Clarence Park prior to Christmas, while Gray and joint-boss Graham Golds resigned from the Saints hot-seat following a 4-0 FA Trophy drubbing at Lowestoft Town at the end of November.

I’m happy to announce I’ve signed for Berkhamsted, I feel quite good and am looking forward to a new challenge!

Jimmy Gray

Speaking about the Comrades’ latest managerial recruit, Berko head coach Tommy Garratt, said: “I’m delighted that Mark has agreed to come on board with the club and will be a massive asset to both ourselves and the players.

“He’s full of enthusiasm for the coaching side of things and his last appointment of managing the St Albans development side shows the great reputation he already has.

“Having known Mark for a good 15 years I can confirm he’s is a real football man; he even works a full-time job for the FA and is currently studying for his UEFA A license.

“He’ll be a valuable member of the management team and I look forward to getting him started this week before the big FA Vase game on Saturday.”

Looking at the addition of Gray to the playing squad, Garratt continued: “Jimmy joins us as a player – he tells us he’s got a bit of fitness work to get through but we can see he is already well on his way and we’re all looking forward to him adding his ability and experience to the team.”

Announcing his decision to head to Broadwater on Twitter, Gray said: “Since resigning from my managerial post I have been working hard on my fitness with a view to playing again.

“I’m happy to announce I’ve signed for Berkhamsted, I feel quite good and am looking forward to a new challenge!”

Tomorrow, Berko are at home to Hullbridge Sports in the fourth round proper of the FA Vase – looking for a place in the last-16 of a competition that started with 572 teams.

The game is likely to attract double Berko’s usual crowd, so supporters are advised to get to Broadwater early and to try and park away from the ground.

Hullbridge, from the Essex Senior League, knocked Berko out of the Vase two seasons ago with a single goal after extra-time, so it is a chance for revenge.

The Comrades got to this stage with a win at Saffron Walden Town in the last round in front of 324 fans and, before that, four home wins against United Counties League sides.

Steve Hawes (after suspension), Josh Chamblerain (fit again) and Jordan Gilbert will be available to return for Berko’s first home match in nearly a month.

If a replay is needed it will be at Hullbridge on Saturday, January 16.

Meanwhile, the Comrades’ league trip to Holmer Green was postponed last Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch and has been rearranged for Tuesday, January 12.

Berko’s reserve side take a quick trip along the A41 to Tring Athletic on Saturday in the Suburban Plate.