WITTON Albion took their own supporters by surprise with the appointment of a new manager on Monday. 'Gary Who?' they asked.
But Gary Finley is being backed to make a big name for himself at Witton and in English non-league football.
The 34-year-old former centre-back was behind one of the great, if largely unsung, achievements in semi-professional football last season, taking humble Aberystwyth into second place in the League of Wales and into the UEFA Cup.
Chairman Mike Worthington said: 'He is young, ambitious and has good contacts. We have looked at his potential rather than whatever has already been achieved.'
Finley himself said: 'I'm excited and can't wait to get started.'
He was one of five interviewed on Sunday and will bring a more familiar non-league name with him as his assistant, the former Runcorn star Gary Brabin.
Finley, a Liverpool-based bank manager, showed extraordinary dedication to his job at Aberystwyth, making the 300-mile round trip to midweek training and Saturday matches for the three years he held the post.
But after Aber lost their UEFA preliminary tie against Latvian opposition the club chairman asked him to limit the number of imported English players.
Finley resigned and joined another well-known non-league name, Kenny McK-enna, at TNS as a player.
He will register with Witton also, but his playing days, after a career that included spells at Marine, Hyde, Warrington and Doncaster, are petering out.
He said: 'We were fourth from bottom when I took over at Aberystwyth and I thought what the chairman wanted was not the way forward for the club so I left.
'I've been looking around and had always wanted to come back to England.
'In UniBond terms Witton are a massive club, a sleeping giant and I think we can progress.
'I have watched them three times already and do know a lot of the players. There is a good deal of talent there, but room for improvement also.
'The fans may be saying 'Gary Who?' but I did a good job at Aberystwyth and in Gary Brabin we have someone vastly experienced.'
A recent illness probably excludes Brabin, 34, from playing at the weekend.
Witton are away to bottom club Gateshead on Saturday and host top club Workington on Tuesday, a game put back 24 hours.
By then Finley may have made his first signing. Albion are due to recruit Middlewich Town striker Rob Hopley, 19, on the strong recommendation of the Seddon Street manager Terry Murphy. But Winsford United also want Hopley and he may end up at the Barton Stadium.
AMONG those interviewed by Witton was Barnton manager Nick Armitage, who impressed the English FA during the club's European ventures.
Worthington said: 'He was a serious candidate and it was a serious interview. He was very close.'