‘I feel like I was born to do it’ – Tom Grice on following in ‘massive’ footsteps after being appointed manager of FA Vase heroes US Portsmouth
Tom Grice admits he faces a 'mammoth' task following in the footsteps of the 'miracle' job done by former US Portsmouth management trio Glenn Turnbull, Fraser Quirke and Paul Barton.
But the newly-appointed Victory Stadium boss says he'll be doing everything within his power to ensure the club continue their incredible success story over the past two seasons.
Grice, 37, whose USP association started as a 16-year-old, heads up the new-look management team at a club who will be playing in the Premier Division of the Wessex League for the first time in 2021/22.
Inspirational club captain Tom Jeffes will serve as Grice’s assistant, while also continuing playing duties, with former Portsmouth Royal Navy manager Henry Millington assuming director of football responsibilities.
For Grice, his first step into management could not have come in more fitting surroundings given his commitment and devotion to the club which first began more than two decades ago.
He takes on the role on the back of USP's most successful spell in history, after reaching the FA Vase semi-final, Wessex League Cup final and achieving promotion to the Premier Division after being granted 'upward movement' as part of the FA's non-league restructure.
The spotlight has been on USP like never before given the club's achievements in recent months - but Grice remains hopeful he can help continue its growth.
He said: 'Don’t get me wrong, it’s massive footsteps to follow. What Glenn (Turnbull), Fras (Fraser Quirke) and Barto (Paul Barton) have done, they’ve pretty much worked miracles.
‘It’s down to them in terms of what they’ve put in place and this is going to be a mammoth task - there’s no doubt about it.
'It’s something that I’m relishing, I feel like I was born to do it, I love this club and I’m going to take this opportunity and give everything to the role.
‘I’m absolutely buzzing for it. I’ve been associated with the club since I was 16 years old.
‘The majority of my adult life I’ve been at Portsmouth RN (Royal Navy), which it was before, then it obviously changed to United Services.
‘It’s going to be hard, a massive act to follow, but we’ve got all of the makings to be able to do it.'
Grice is one of the club's most familiar faces and spent time as assistant manager to former reserve team boss Lee Mould and around Turnbull's first team coaching staff last term.
A number of Turnbull’s history-making squad will follow him to Moneyfields - James Franklyn, Tom Cain, Harry Birmingham, Callum Glenn, Jordan Pile, Dec Seiden and Elliott Turnbull so far.
But Grice is hopeful his relationship with the players could help persuade a number to remain.
But with USP's season only coming to an end last weekend after their Wessex League Cup final defeat to Hamworthy, the new boss has not had an opportunity to delve too deeply into how things will look next season.
Grice said: 'As most people will be aware, it’s a bit of a difficult one to be honest (how the squad could look next season).
‘Obviously, we’ve got the situation of Glenn going to Moneyfields, you’ve got the situation where we’ve had an FA Vase run which was ongoing and the situation with the cup final last weekend, so there hasn’t really been a time or place to start talking about next season because we were still in the flow of the actual season.
‘What I will say, after speaking to Tommy Jeffes and a few of the players, I’ve got a very good feeling - we’re going to lose a few, there’s no doubt - but we’re going to have a good core of players.
‘We’ve got a few names and targets who we’re going to be looking at and we’ve got a meeting where we’re going to be discussing targets and meeting with some of the players who have committed.'