Darren Edmondson says he wants to be part of long-term plans to grow Penrith AFC after returning to management with the Northern League club.

Former Carlisle United, Workington Reds and Barrow AFC man Edmondson has been confirmed as the new boss at the Frenchfield Park outfit.

The 50-year-old was unveiled as the successor to Chris Humphrey after talks with chairman Brian ‘Billy’ Williams.

It sees Edmondson return to the dugout after several years out of front-line first-team management.

And he hopes he can tap into the potential both at Penrith and in the wider area.

Edmondson, who is also spearheading a new sporting academy at Newton Rigg near the town, said: “My initial chats with Billy were just about the academy, and how we might be able to link.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: Penrith have appointed Edmondson to replace Chris Humphrey as managerPenrith have appointed Edmondson to replace Chris Humphrey as manager

“In terms of the manager position, he just sort of sprung it on me. I turned up for a cup of tea and a chat, they were all round the table, and it went from there.

“We’ve been talking for a couple of weeks. I’ve been out of the dugout for a while and had to decide family-wise was it right, stuff like that.

“But he’s been quite persuasive – and it’s a great little club. They’ve always tried to do things right, he’s a genuine man, and everybody that leaves always has a good word to say about him.

“You don’t always get that in football and I decided it was a challenge and a project I was keen to get involved in.”

Penrith avoided relegation from Northern League Division One last season despite finishing in the bottom two places.

A reorganisation of the leagues handed them a reprieve, and Cumbrian Edmondson hopes to oversee steady improvement at a club who have further major changes on the horizon, including the planned installation of an artificial pitch at Frenchfield Park next year.

“There are some things going on behind the scenes that will help the club going forwards,” said Edmondson, who has managed Workington, Barrow and Bradford Park Avenue as well as Carlisle United's academy.

“And I think this is a long-term plan between Billy and myself to try and start to move Penrith in the right direction.

“The infrastructure’s great, they’ve got a lot of junior teams that are doing well. So with regards to a flow of players coming in, it’s great.

“We’re not going to win the league next year, without being disrespectful to anybody. But what we want to do is be more competitive and consistent, then try to push some of the youngsters through and give them some game time, experience, knowledge and learning, and this time next year, with things like the redevelopment of the ground, we’ll be in a better position to push a bit further.

“We’ve got to hope that the players have learned a little bit from last season. Most, from what I can gather, are keen to come back and go again.

“Then if we can potentially try and bring some other players into the group to give it a bit of solidity, then barring a catastrophe we should be able to do a little bit better than we did last season.

“Sustaining the league status again is key, and we’ll work from there.”

Edmondson admits recruiting players to Penrith is not an easy challenge but he said making the most of links with fellow Cumbrian clubs must be maximised.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: Edmondson agreed to take charge at Penrith after talks with chairman Brian Williams (photo; Stuart Walker)Edmondson agreed to take charge at Penrith after talks with chairman Brian Williams (photo; Stuart Walker)

And he said improving players already on Penrith’s books is all important.

“The ability to bring players in always comes down to finance,” he said. “If they’re not in Cumbria you have to go to Lancashire and the north east. Then you have to pay more money. And the cost of fuel is outrageous at the moment, which will have a factor in what they want to do.

“My experience in the last two years [working for north east based Park View Academy of Sport] is there’s an abundance of clubs over there. Sometimes it comes down to trying to work with what you’ve got and make them better.

“That’s what the chairman has been saying to me – we’ve got a couple of reserves and under-18s that were pushed up last year and did well. It’s going to be up to me to work with them, try and mature them earlier if we can.”

Edmondson stressed that he hopes to foster stronger links with clubs in the county and believes that will be mutually beneficial.

“I think in the county as a whole we’ve got to be a bit more transparent with each other,” he said. “We’ve now got two professional clubs in Cumbria, in Carlisle United and Barrow, which is great. Danny Grainger’s gone back to Workington Reds, which is another good link.

“We should be able to work together as a footballing community. I’ve already spoken to Danny abut dual-registering players, if lads aren’t getting games for Reds.

“We’ve also got to keep scouring the non-league and grassroots scene to give players an opportunity, and progress.

“If a player comes from grassroots and plays for Penrith and can move on to Workington, that’s a success for the county.

“That pecking order is in place and will have to be tapped into, otherwise clubs won’t be successful. We’ve got to work together and make county football better.”

Penrith’s 2022/23 season will include derbies against newly-promoted Carlisle City, and Edmondson says they must embrace the challenge of remaining the top Cumbrian club at Northern League level.

“There will be some good games – that will be an exciting one for the locals to take on board,” he said.

“Penrith should be looking to be better than Carlisle City – no disrespect to them, they’ve done fantastically well – but with the infrastructure at the club, Penrith should be looking to be higher.

“I’m now part of making sure we’re producing better, and looking to improve players as a whole in the county.”

READ MORE: Ex-Carlisle United and Workington Reds favourite Darren Edmondson appointed Penrith AFC manager