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Shot at Highland League management with Huntly eases Colin Charlesworth's pain of ending his playing career at the age of 32

By Craig Christie

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Closing the door on his playing career at the age of 32 has allowed Colin Charlesworth to open another one into the world of football management.

Colin Charlesworth (right) alongside Allan Hale, the man he is replacing as Huntly boss. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Colin Charlesworth (right) alongside Allan Hale, the man he is replacing as Huntly boss. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The Huntly player coach has stepped into the role of interim boss at Christie Park following this week's departure of the previous management team of Allan Hale and Stefan Laird to Elgin City.

Charlesworth will take charge of the team until the end of the season, and will be assisted by current players Zander Jack and Alex Thoirs - their first game at the helm is at home to Rothes on Saturday.

Dogged by injury over the past few seasons, the former Lossiemouth, Inverurie Locos and Deveronvale winger wasn't able to make a full recovery from cruciate ligament surgery in 2021 after being signed for Huntly by Hale.

He has served as a first team coach this season and finally decided to call time on his playing days when his former boss moved on.

"It’s tough. Every player you speak to will tell you they have been fighting tooth and nail to try and keep playing," he said.

"At my age, 32, I’ve got a few years left in the tank in terms of the playing side but not at the level that I played at. As a winger, it’s a loss of pace and hard to adapt your game at the back end of 30.

Colin Charlesworth in the colours of Deveronvale, who he played for along with Huntly, Inverurie Locos and Lossiemouth.
Colin Charlesworth in the colours of Deveronvale, who he played for along with Huntly, Inverurie Locos and Lossiemouth.

"I thought with this opportunity the timing was right to maybe not cling on to something that’s not there any more and throw myself into something that is there."

Huntly at one point led the Highland League this season under Hale's guidance, and Charlesworth is aiming to carry on his predecessor's good work.

"With Allan just leaving it’s until the end of the season to try and get a bit of continuity and consistency, and then the ball is my court off the back of it," he said.

"I’ve known Allan for ten years now and we have always talked football, even when he was manager at Keith. When the opportunity came to join the coaching staff it was something we had spoken about in years gone by, that we would work together in some capacity.

"In terms of what Allan has done for Huntly, it’s no secret that he has been a cracking appointment for them.

"Whatever happens now for Allan, I wish him all the best. I’ll still keep in touch with him and he will be a sounding board for me because he is one guy I’ve spoken to about football for a long time.

"We had a cracking start and anyone who knows Allan will say that he throws himself in whole-heartedly and no stone is left unturned. He has put the foundations in place for me to inherit an unbelievable squad in terms of players, the age they are at and the confidence that is there in them to have the start to the season that they have.

"My job is to continue that and hopefully with me being part of the old coaching staff it is a seamless transition to carry that on.

"Allan left the squad in a good position with players on contracts and I have the full backing of those players. I have spoken to every single one of them individually and given them the opportunity to speak freely about what they want and what changes they hope to happen for their own benefit.

"They are fully on board and behind me so that’s all I can ask for. I just want to see it as business as normal."

There can't be too many clubs in Scotland who have been managed by a father and son in their history, but Huntly can now say they are one of them.

For Colin's dad Charlie, most recently a caretaker boss and first team coach at Elgin City, can count Huntly as one of several Highland League cubs he has managed.

"I can’t hide the fact that football is in the blood in my family," Colin said. "When I played for Lossie I saw what it took out of (his father) to be a manager and how much he had to put into it.

"I played for some really good managers in the Highland League and I’m hoping to add a mix of all their styles. You’ve got my old man, Scott Buchan, Neil Cooper, Allan Hale, Steve Dolan.

"I can take bits and pieces from them but at the end of the day I want to be my own man at the same time. There’s plenty of sounding boards for me to bounce off if I need it." up and put a performance in.

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