JOHN Coventry said he is extremely proud after completing a decade in charge at East Thurrock United.

Saturday’s match against Hemel Hempstead Town marked 10 years since he managed his first game in charge - against Ashford Town (Middlesex) in the Ryman North.

Rocks suffered a 1-0 defeat that day, the same scoreline they were beaten by against Hemel on Saturday although this match was in the second tier of non-league football.

And Coventry said he had enjoyed many great moments at Rookery Hill, but was keen to praise those who have made the spell so successful.

Coventry said: “It doesn’t happen often and I am pleased and I have a lot of good memories. I am proud of a lot but mainly from where the club has come from to where it is now.

“I have been here 10 years but it is a celebration for everyone behind the scenes and the small group of people that work so hard to make this club what it is, including those that are no longer here such as Jay Devereux.

“I didn’t get off to the best start and I never even wanted to be a manager initially. I was coach and assisting Lee Patterson when he went to Braintree.

“I went for the same interview and didn’t fancy going there so I didn’t even expect to stay as I thought the new boss would bring his own staff in.

“But then I got a call from (owner) Benny Bennett at 8:15 on Monday morning and he asked if I wanted the job.

“There was much more I didn’t know about management than I did at the time and it was difficult for me. The best thing to do was get relegated as I had to make changes to the team for financial reasons.

“My naivety showed and it gave me a chance to find my feet in the Ryman North and put together my side.

“We lost the league on the last day of the season in the most eventful match I have ever been involved in. But we came back well.”

Coventry won promotion back to the third tier in 2011 before guiding Rocks to the National League South in 2016.

A 13th-placed finish and an Essex Senior Cup final appearance last year continued the club’s progress under Coventry.

And he said he was pleased to be awarded a silver salver to commemorate the occasion, while he also had kind words for former coach Joe Keith - who recently took his first management job at Tilbury.

Coventry added: “I am really proud of where the club is. I don’t think anyone would have seen us where we are all those years ago, and I must thank my wife for putting up with me as she has been so important too.

“I was massively pleased for Joe. We have talked regularly in recent times and I have seen he has said some nice things about me and that is already nice to hear.

“I hope he takes this chance. He has good ideas and views on football and I dare say we may be able to help each other out over the season. I hope we can.”

Rocks visit Tilbury next Tuesday for a friendly (kick-off 7:45pm).