Ex-professional Tony Thorpe takes charge at Melton Mowbray FC

Melton Mowbray FC new manager Tony Thorpe (right) with former joint managers Cliff Thornton and Matt Curtis who will form part of his support team EMN-160806-114644002
Melton Mowbray FC new manager Tony Thorpe (right) with former joint managers Cliff Thornton and Matt Curtis who will form part of his support team EMN-160806-114644002
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Melton Mowbray FC have pulled off a coup by persuading former Fulham and Bristol City striker Tony Thorpe to take over as manager.

Thorpe comes in as Melton prepare for their first-ever season at step six, and replaces co-managers Cliff Thornton and Matt Curtis who will remain at the club in support roles.

The 42-year-old, who was a million pound player during a 17-year professional career, was signed by Thornton in 2012 as player-coach.

And having taken the hotseat with Melton, Thorpe has simple and clear targets for his team.

“I’m looking to achieve promotion next season,” he said. “I’ve been a winner during my career and want to bring this kind of philosophy into the club.

“I’m going to bring some professionalism in and do things a bit differently.

“With the players we have here and the few we will bring in, we can be successful.

“I wouldn’t have taken the position in the first place if I thought otherwise.”

Thorpe, who lives at East Goscote, has this summer officially retired as a player, but would dig out his boots again if the circumstances demanded.

Having started out at Leicester, he made his name at Luton Town where he scored 50 goals in just 93 games to earn an £800,000 move to Fulham in February 1998.

Despite spending just three months at Craven Cottage, Thorpe then secured a £1 million move to Bristol City where he found the net 51 times in 102 appearances.

“I’m 42 and can’t run around with these youngsters anymore,” he added. “But if we were down to the bare bones, if we had six players away at a wedding and five injured, I would have a go.

“But chiefly I want to improve my knowledge as manager and make sure the players progress.”

After retirement from the professional ranks, Thorpe spent three years coaching players across the United States under former Manchester United winger Gordon Hill, before taking the management reins at Halesowen.

That season at Halesowen, just two levels below the National League, remains his only experience as boss, but the approach by Melton chairman Sam Ellis and vice-chairman Howard Eggleston re-ignited this ambition.

He will be joined by Ross Perkins as his assistant and coach.

“I spoke to Sam and Howard and liked their enthusiasm and ambition, and wanted to be part of that,” Thorpe added.

“I have taken a few years out, but it excites me that I’m starting afresh.

“The club has an opportunity to go to another level and their ambitions match mine.”

As with all new appointments, there will be changes in personnel, but the new boss knows the Melton squad well and is mindful of the job they have done.

He said: “The players there have done a fine job and I’m looking to give them an opportunity, but I’m also looking to bring in a few players to strengthen the squad and allow us to compete at the high end of the table.”

Thornton and Curtis will work across several projects at the club including player recruitment and overseeing the development of Melton’s new ground at Burton Road.

Curtis helped to guide Melton out of park football into the Leics Senior League, and with Thornton, last season they earned the club promotion to the United Counties League.

But after a decade of managing an increasingly unwieldy workload at Melton, Curtis insists he is happy to hand over the reins.

“I have been offered various roles within the club, but primarily we are there to support Tony in whatever means possible,” he said.

“It’s a massive coup for us. He was offered coaching roles with other clubs which he turned down.

“I want to make sure the infrastructure is right so we can take the club and the team forward.”