NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: JODY Brown has admitted “career progression” was at the heart of his decision to become manager of Grays Athletic.

The former Heybridge Swifts boss has also spoken of his delight at taking love the reins at the Ryman Premier side, writes Matt Plummer.

He has replaced player-boss Ryan Kirby, who recently stepped down due to family and work commitments, and took his first training session this week.

Afterwards he admitted the decision to join such a club was too good an opportunity to turn down.

“Grays are a massive club with a huge fan-base,” said Brown, inset right, who had replaced the Chelmsford City-bound Mark Hawkes at Heybridge in December.

“Obviously it’s a higher level and in the not too distant past they’ve been up in the Conference Premier.

“I’ll always remember going there at the end of the season before last, when they had the title in the bag.

“The atmosphere was incredible and the crowd was about 800.

“I want to progress and this isn’t something I do as a hobby – it’s my job. Football is my career. I’m a professional football coach and that’s why progression, as well as financial gain, has to be considered.

“A couple of their recent managers have got Football League jobs off the back of their work at Grays.

“I can’t ignore those factors and that’s why I had to make this decision. It was too good to turn down.”

Brown enjoyed great success in a short period of time at Heybridge.

Having lost players and had many more on the treatment table, he defied the odds by guiding the club to a third-place finish in Ryman One North last season.

Grays made an official approach for Brown early last week, before speaking to him on Wednesday and then meeting him on Thursday.