LAST-MINUTE applicant Tom Bulley has been given the job of turning around Barnstaple Town's fortunes on the field.
While chairman Warren Crossley is making progress in improving the club's off-the-field situation, he has entrusted the first team to 22-year-old Bulley – thought to be the youngest manager in the club's history.
Bulley came to North Devon last month after two years coaching young players in the United States.
"My application was last-minute," he said. "November 30 was the deadline and that is when I picked up the phone and thought, 'Why not'."
Bulley, who is living in Bideford, was born in Barnstaple and moved to Exeter with his parents when he was a child.
He said he has been coaching since he was "15 or 16" and worked with Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle before going to America.
Bulley takes over a team seven points adrift at the bottom of the Toolstation Western League premier division and without a win in the league since August 25 – 14 matches ago.
He watched the latest defeat, 8-0 at home to Bishop Sutton on Saturday, and took charge at a training session on Tuesday night, which was attended by 24 players.
"With a bit of drive and commitment and a bit more passion we can match these teams on what I saw," said Bulley.
"I am a local lad so I am happy to step in and help.
"We want the fans to get behind the team and if they can bring a friend to the game that would be great – the more you can get the better we are going to be on the field."
Bulley has a Uefa B coaching licence and Crossley was impressed by his credentials.
The chairman said: "There were certain criteria. One, I needed someone I could work with, second he had to have the same vision, third I wanted somebody who had his coaching badges. He ticks all the boxes. The game has changed and that coaching is essential.
"I don't think age is a problem. We have got a young team and I think he will get the best out of them."
Barnstaple have invited George Palmer to be their mascot for the derby with Ilfracombe Town at Mill Road on Boxing Day.
George, aged 5, from Braunton, has cerebral palsy and has recently returned from the USA where he had surgery to help him walk. Samuel Daw have donated a kit for him.