Ash and Gavin Connor are the joint management team at Golcar United. As brothers it’s impossible not to think of that other brotherly managerial duo previously down the road at Huddersfield Town, Danny and Nicky Cowley.
Like the Cowleys, the Connors are ambitious. The Connors have been in charge of Golcar since 2015 and have seen a club built up from nothing.
Having taken over a club which essentially played on a park field, the club today is unrecognisable. With a clubhouse and new stand and the area around the stadium improved, Golcar United is only going one way and that’s up.
As part of this journey the Connors want to achieve a few more promotions with Golcar. They are determined to take the club up the football pyramid.
Ash, 38, said of working with his 42-year-old brother: “As a pair we have worked with each other on and off for the past 10-12 years. We first managed Marsden together before coming to Golcar.
“We have got a good relationship and we like working with each other. We don’t fall out over football really.”
Unlike the Cowleys where Danny comes across as the dominant voice, the Connor brothers have a 50/50 responsibility.
Ash added: “We come across well as a pair. I think if you ask most people I come across as the bad cop and him the good cop.
“We just get on with it, no one takes the lead really. We bounce ideas off one another and work things out. I don’t think either of us are particularly bothered about who’s the leader even if there is one. As long as the team is getting results, that’s what matters.”
The one thing that really comes across from this duo is their passion for the club and how high they want to take it. Their love affair with Golcar started at a young age as they both played in the junior set up.
Ash said: “We both played for Golcar juniors and so I think it’s always been on our radars. If the opportunity came up to manage the club it’s something we would have had to seriously think about.
“We want to manage at the highest level we can get to. We are more than happy at Golcar at the minute and want to earn a few more promotions here before even thinking about anything more.”
Golcar have had a difficult introduction since being promoted to the North West Counties North Division two seasons ago. With things not being right with the pitch and then with the Covid-19 pandemic, the brothers have had to stay positive and are hoping the club can push for promotion next season.
Ash said: “We have been in the non league set up now for two years. It’s been very frustrating because the first season 2019/20 we had problems with our pitch and now we’ve had Covid-19 hit so it’s been a very stop start experience.”
On the pandemic Ash added: “It’s been a crazy 12 months but we have got through it. Now we can start to look forward and start to really prepare to play games again.
“This period has been tough, you keep thinking you’re getting somewhere and then something hits you back. You try to schedule fixtures and then you have it pulled from underneath you.
“However, as a management team, our job through all of this has had to be positive. If we are down and negative then that affects the team morale and we want that to be positive.”
Golcar’s season was cut short due to Covid-19 last year but they finished in 8th on 10 points in the North West Counties North Division before the season was curtailed. However Ash is hoping his team can this time around challenge for promotion.
He said: “Every season we have been fighting for something which is great. Over the last few seasons we have built some real momentum.
“We are aiming for promotion and the good thing about this group of players is that they are buying into that plan. As soon as we started training again they were all at it.”
Although he wouldn’t admit what positions the brothers would like to strengthen the team in, they would like to add a little bit more experience and quality to the side.
Ash said: “We have started recruiting already for next season. We want to build a strong squad of 18-20 players that can play at this level. We have a good group here already though and so it’d be unfair on them to say which positions we are looking at.
“We just want to add a bit of experience and quality to what we already have. We believe that will then help us push on for promotion.”
READ MORE: Golcar United – a true community club
The Golcar club have epitomised a community coming together and Ash insists he is very proud of what everyone has achieved so far.
He said: “When we met the North West Counties League they were great with us. They told us exactly what needed doing so we’d be accepted into the league. These things included leveling the pitch, building a stand, updating the clubhouse. The club found the money and we made sure all those things were completed.
“It’s been magnificent for the Golcar community to build a club from nothing to something they all can be proud of. We have a great secretary in Ben Senior and chairman in Peter Gledhill. There’s lots of other people involved too who have the club at heart. Both myself, Gav and the players want to do our bit and push us up the leagues.
“When I first turned up at the club there was nothing there. I think people think I’m joking when I say it was one of the worst grounds in the area, but it was. It just shows the amount of time, effort and money people have put into the whole project.
“When you’re in the village and folk are speaking about the games there is a real buzz about the place when we are doing well which is brilliant. That’s what being a community club is all about.
“Ben Senior and others have done an amazing job with the junior set up too. We’ve gone from having hardly any kids to now 300 children in the set up.”
As well as being brothers they are both Huddersfield Town supporters and have enjoyed going to watch the Terriers down the years.
The connection between Town and the Connors doesn’t stop there. Former Town player Joe Skarz currently plays for the team and Ash says they are pleased to have him on board.
“We have both grown up being Town supporters and been all over to watch them including Wembley a few times. Joe has been great for us. We tried to sign him last Christmas time but it didn’t happen. However we have always just kept in touch.
“He lives in the same village as me (Holmfirth) and so we eventually got him signed up. He’s a big help on match days and in training and has added some great experience to the team.”
Ash himself has played at a decent level of football, signing on as an apprentice at Rotherham United as a schoolboy. He spent two seasons at the Millers before moving to non-league Harrogate Town where he made 141 appearances in a three-year stay at the club as goalkeeper.
On his career he said: “At Rotherham I was on the fringes of the first team for two years but couldn’t get a game because the club had a good keeper at the time in Mike Pollitt who never got injured.
“I then signed for Harrogate Town in what I still say was the best non-league club at the time. We won promotion and won a few other things too so I have happy memories there.
“When I was growing up Ian Dunn (former Town player) was my hero so it was amazing to be playing alongside him at Harrogate.”
After his time at Harrogate he went on to play for the likes of Ashton United, Ossett Albion and Ossett Town before moving into management.
Golcar are taking part in the Yorkshire Cup which begins later this month. Ash wants to see his side be competitive in the tournament.
He said: “We want to give a good account of ourselves but we’ll use it to help us gear up for the new season kicking off in July.”