Julian Stevens is looking to manage an amateur football title double

The Bolton News: Coach Julian Stevens is looking to win the league with his open-age and junior teams Coach Julian Stevens is looking to win the league with his open-age and junior teams

WHEN you are related to two all-time greats of Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers it is no wonder you will get involved in football.

That is the case with Julian Stevens who is enjoying double success as an amateur coach.

The 47-year-old is the son of former Wanderers and Everton legend Dennis, whose cousin was the great Duncan Edwards who died in the Munich Air Disaster.

Julian, whose father died a year ago today is keeping the family name uppermost in Bolton football circles.

He is the manager of Old Boltonians who are flying high 10 points clear at the top of the Lancashire Amateur League Premier Division.

And, as if not content with the time demands of combining that role with running his own business, he also coaches his son Lloyd’s under-11s side, FC Strikerz, who are second in the top division of the Bolton and Bury Football League with two games in hand.

“Football’s always been in our blood in our family so I suppose I was destined to get involved,” he said.

“My brother Gary’s three sons all played and my dad used to go and watch them but he never saw Lloyd play, though he saw him train.

“When I was born my dad retired and had a gents outfitters in Harwood. He used to coach at Newhouse Farm and I would go along with him which is where I saw what amateur football was all about.

“I didn’t play at such a high level because I was self-employed from being 18 or 19 and was tied up with running my business. I’ve been involved in amateur football in Bolton for about 25 years mainly playing and then as assistant manager and manager for the last five years.

“I do it because I enjoy it. Playing was great and you feel like you’re giving something back by managing.”

Curiously, the three teams he played for were all connected to Bolton schools – Old Sladians, Old Smithillians and Old Boltonians – none of which he went to.

“It’s just the way it happened,” said the former Turton School pupil who lives in Tottington.

But it is with Old Bolts that he wants to have his last big moment of glory in the open age game.

“I’d hung up my boots and a mate of mine invited me down to Old Bolts about 10 years ago,” he said.

“I was playing in the second team then first team from being 36 to about 40 – a bit of a Ryan Giggs career! Then I was assistant to Simon Shields, then manager for the last three seasons. It’s just been a progression.

“It’s a club where you feel you get a lot out of it as a player with the good facilities and pitch up there on the tops at Chapeltown. The people, the groundstaff, the support you get – it’s a joy to manage.

“Doing both the open-age and kids teams is a bit too much and eventually I’ll hand over Old Bolts, but I just want to win this title for them first. Last year was a sickener, losing the league by one point, but we won the Open Cup.

“We’re destined to win that league. We deserve it, the club deserves it, and it’s a good league to win – better than it’s ever been. The top six are the best top six I’ve ever known.”

So, what’s the biggest difference between managing an open-age team and a team of 10-year-olds?

“There’s not a lot, to be honest,” he said. “Neither are difficult to handle because there’s a trust factor with both of them.

“I’ve built up a trust with the Old Bolts players so you ask them to do something and they just get on with it, and kids just do as you tell them.

“The biggest difference is that open-age players can have bad habits, but kids haven’t picked up any bad habits yet and you can coach them from scratch.

“They’re like sponges, they absorb everything you tell them, and it’s great to teach them something and see them reproduce it in a match.

“I’ve managed FC Strikerz for five years and I don’t just do it because my son plays but because I want to try to coach them how to play the right way.

“We try to play, pass, keep possession – as we do at Old Bolts as well – and I’d rather lose playing that way than win flinging the ball into the box and picking up scraps.

“I’ve got a chance of winning the league with both teams which would be fantastic after both teams finished second in the league last season and won the cup.”

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