BEMERTON Heath Harlequins have appointed Rae Hughes as manager.

The former Downton coach said he was excited and is looking ahead to next season, with his focus on building a squad capable of competing at the top end of the table.

He takes the place of Graham Kemp who is stepping down at the end of the season, following his two-year spell at the club.

Hughes, the former physio at National League South side Gosport Borough, led Downton to a 10th place finish in the Sydenhams Division One league last season.

He said: “I have had a great season at Downton and would like to thank them and wish them all the very best of luck.” He added: “Bemerton is a top club with first class facilities.”

Bemerton chairman Steve Slade said there were about a dozen applicants for the job and it was close-run between two candidates. “Rae deservedly got the position. He’s an up-and-coming young manager and we are looking forward to him coming in and playing some good, exciting football.”

Hughes, a former Salisbury City secretary, took over at the Robins last year and his assistant manager at Downton, Ben Smith said: “Rae is a great coach and Bemerton have done well to secure his services. I’ve no doubt he will succeed in his new appointment.

“We will be looking into another joint manager set up for next season with several interests already on the table.

“We will be working hard to retain all our players and add some new faces in certain areas. I personally still want to play and I can’t do both so the assistant role is ideal for now.”