Lambert: I was itching to get back in

John Lambert is back in management with Eastbourne Town
John Lambert is back in management with Eastbourne Town

John Lambert said he was itching to get back into management after being appointed Eastbourne Town boss last weekend.

The former Hastings United and Sidley United chief has begun the task of keeping Town in Ryman Football League Division One South following the resignation of previous boss Tony Reid late last week.

Lambert said: “I’m itching to get back in and there’s a lot to be done. I had resigned myself to possibly seeing out the season with nothing and seeing what turns up in the summer, but then I got a call from the chairman. I wanted to get back into football.”

Hastings-based Lambert forged a successful playing career as a central defender with the likes of Hastings United and was still playing senior football with Westfield well into his 40s.

Although he once had a season-and-a-half as player/manager of Bexhill Town (now United), Lambert’s managerial career really began with Westfield reserves. He then took charge of Hastings reserves - for whom he still made a few appearances as a player in his early 50s - before getting his big chance with the Hastings front side in summer 2008.

The 55-year-old was controversially sacked the following January even though Hastings were outside the Ryman Football League Premier Division relegation zone, but returned to management with Sidley in summer 2009.

Lambert led the Blues to promotion from Sussex County Football League Division Two in his first season and comfortably kept Sidley in Division One during the subsequent three terms, winning the Hastings & District FA Senior Cup a few times.

A very well-known and popular character but with a steely determination to succeed, Lambert resigned last summer just days before Sidley withdrew from the league following the loss of their Gullivers ground.

Apart from playing in a few veterans’ games, Lambert - who was close to landing the Eastbourne job last summer - had been confined to the role of an interested spectator during the first half of this term.

The father of two has taken his former Sidley assistant manager Jamie Podmore and coach Peter Heritage (or entertainments officer as Lambert joked) with him to The Saffrons. They held a get-together with the players on Monday night, but last night’s scheduled game was postponed.