Tony Russell – Manager
Tony came to Cray in the summer of 2015 after helping keep VCD Athletic in the Ryman Premier. His impact on the club was immediate taking a club that had faced relegation to the Southern Counties East League the previous season to top the league by Christmas was an outstanding achievement.
Tony who played for Cray from the 2004-05 season, our first in the Ryman League, cut his teeth in management at Erith Town following a spell as Thamesmead Town player-coach. He took over at Erith Town in October 2010 winning the Kent Senior Trophy in his first season. He then went on to manage VCD Athletic two years later taking them to promotion from the Southern Counties East League as runners up to Erith and Belvedere. He then took the Vickers to the championship of the Ryman North and their first ever promotion to the Ryman Premier. Performed miracles to keep VCD from relegation with a six game winning run at the end of the 2014-15 season before departing to manage Cray in the summer.
His first season at Hayes Lane saw Tony win two Manager of the Month awards and with a solid recruitment including Assistant Manager Ray Powell, coaching and medical staff and many of the VCD team took Cray to the top of the Ryman North by the end of 2015. In the end the team missed out on automatic promotion but a strong finish to the season meant a playoff place was achieved, Cray’s best season for a few years. In 2017-18 Cray for the first time in the Isthmian League era scored over 100 goals in a season and played some superb football to finish third in the Bostik South last season before losing to Walton Casuals in the Semi-Final. That was soon forgotten as in 2018-19 Cray were crowned champions of the first Bostik South-East season and did so in his 200th game in charge against Ashford on 13th April.
Tony is one of the great thinkers of the game, tactically astute and gives great opportunities to young players to play in the first team where some club managers aren’t willing to do so. Tony was voted Isthmian South-East Manager of the Year in 2018-19 and before lockdown affected last season had taken Cray up to 2nd in the Isthmian Premier and celebrated his 100th win as Cray manager at Merstham last season.