Hanover boss Steven Hyndes ambitious that big future can follow Irish Cup tie at Cliftonville
Grounded but aiming high. Former Glenavon full-back Steven Hyndes is once again leading Hanover into uncharted territory yet refusing to get caught up in the hype.
The young boss is in the final season of his initial five-year plan at the Portadown club, but has already ticked off all his stated aims.
"We wanted to get the youth set-up going and now we have 100 kids, to get the two senior teams (first team and reserves) up at the highest level possible in Mid-Ulster, which we've done, and the icing on the cake was to win a trophy. We're lucky enough to have won four at this stage," he explains.
Not a bad start to the managerial CV but he's not getting too excited just yet.
As a player, it was Hyndes' determination that helped utilise every ounce of his ability to play in the top tier with Glenavon, Armagh City and Crusaders.
Now as a manager, he's similarly resolute on achieving all he possibly can.
He'll get a taste of managing at the Irish League's highest level on January 4 when he guides Hanover into the Irish Cup fifth round for the first time in the club's history.
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He'll stand near Paddy McLaughlin in the opposing dugout, watching his players go up against Cliftonville's star-studded squad at Solitude.
"If I'm being honest, I'll be coming from a managerial point of view and I won't look forward to being on the touchline that day," he admits with an intriguing honesty.
Of course, he realises, it will be an occasion to match the club's Bob Radcliffe Cup success on Boxing Day 2017, when they became only the second Mid-Ulster side to claim the trophy after Tandragee Rovers in 2001.
But his natural reaction is to remain focused, first and foremost, on the job at hand.
"Cliftonville are a class above," he explains. "We all know there are different levels and there are big gaps. Those are to do with talent, dedication and stuff like that but when you're going up against the likes of Joe Gormley with a club like Hanover, there is a fear. There is a fear that if goals go past, can the boys handle it?
"We have spoken about it, if we got a draw like this. We've just got to go and enjoy the occasion. We're not expected to go and do anything. As a club, we want to go and sample this. We've had a lot of ups over the last five years, winning a few trophies and following it up with a double last year.
"This is about the club, the occasion and the players, it's not about how I feel as a manager. I've got to take that hat off and tell the boys to enjoy it. I'll look back afterwards maybe and say it was a good occasion but it's going to be tough, let's not kid ourselves."
Hyndes' refusal to get carried away at the prospect is perhaps explained by the fact that he, and his boyhood club, aren't content at being the lowest ranked side to reach one of Irish League football's biggest days.
Four trophies have been won since Hyndes' 2015 appointment, with the Bob Radcliffe Cup soon joined by two Premier Cup crowns and, last season, the Mid Ulster Football League title.
Then earlier this season, the club announced that they now have full ownership over their Brownstown Park pitch and have plans to install a 50-seater stand in order to meet NI Football League requirements.
So while the upcoming Irish Cup tie is not the ultimate goal, it is another marker on an already enjoyable journey.
"Winning the Bob Radcliffe was a massive day but the Irish Cup's the Irish Cup," he says. "There's the whole glory behind it and all the teams being called out at the draw, all of a sudden you hear 'Cliftonville' and 'Hanover' and you sort of think 'is this for real'? It's a massive day for the club, it's huge.
"It's David against Goliath. It's the dream cup draw."
The cup run is another bonus, not least financially, in the club's development but it's also another feather in Hyndes' cap.
"I love it," he says of his managerial career. "It's something I went into very quickly and we've had a very successful period.
"I'm ambitious too. As a footballer, you want to get as high as you can go and you have to have that same ambition as a manager as well."
Given the successful CV pieced together over the last four years, it will be worth watching where that ambition might take Hanover and Steven Hyndes.
Belfast Telegraph Digital