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Exclusive: Nottingham Forest icon Chettle on Basford Utd 'dream factory'

Nottingham Forest legend Steve Chettle is loving the challenge of managing Basford United.

The former defender, 51, left Notts County at the end of last season to sign a four-year deal with the Northern Premier League Premier Division side.

The season has gone well so far for the Nottinghamshire club, with six wins from 11 games putting them equal second on the table.

Having spent the last few years as an assistant and youth coach, Chettle is relishing the challenge of being back in the dugout.

He told "I've really enjoyed it. I've done this level before as assistant manager at Ilkeston when they were in the Northern Premier League.

"I've obviously stepped back from professional football last season at Notts County coming to Basford United, which is a club that is right on my doorstep location wise, I live six minutes from the training ground. I played my first junior game here, so I've got a close affiliation to the football club.

"It's a club I've always followed so it's nice to be here. [My career] has absolutely gone full circle, from being nine years old now to being right on the edge of my 51st birthday on Friday, so it's a long time but it's gone full circle and I'm back where my football roots started."

But Chettle insists his decision to join Basford goes beyond sentimentality.

Asked if history inspired the move, Chettle continued: "No. It's a football club that is going in the right direction.

"The previous regime of management had five promotions from seven years from local football into getting into the Northern Premier League.

"It's a tough ask to follow those kind of successes but we have a four-year plan, myself and the chairman and the football club to get as high as we can, but also making the club sustainable and growing from underneath with the grassroots and youth teams."

As previously mentioned, Chettle has experience at non-league level thanks to his time at Ilkeston Town.

Chettle worked as an assistant alongside former Chelsea and Derby County striker Kevin Wilson, helping cultivate their own 'dream-factory' where they gave second chances to footballers who fell out of the Football League system.

Che Adams is the most notable name who came through the Ilkeston program during Chettle's time with the club. The striker moved to Sheffield United then Birmingham before earning a move to the Premier League this summer with Southampton.

And Chettle says he is replicating the same system at Basford.

"Absolutely. I've done it before. We've taken kids now that were in the academy programs from 16 to 19 year olds. We've got kids who have been released from Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Mansfield Town, Chesterfield, who have now come into our academy development program.

"We played Sheffield United two weeks ago and beat them. We've got through the first qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup so we're looking forward to the second-round of that which is next week.

"Like I say it just gives people another route back into semi-professional sport and then hopefully if they do really well in the senior team then get back into the Football League."

With vast knowledge of top football from his long playing career, Chettle says people would be surprised about how high the level is in the non-leagues.

He added: "This league's tough. You've known players who have played in the Football League.

"Our midfield at Basford ourselves, we've got two players who have played for Nottingham Forest, we've got one from Mansfield, one from Peterborough.

"People are coming down now because at your top end of the Northern Premier League and Conference North there is some good money to be had and if you now go into working in it, it is beneficial for you as well, it's a double edge thing for them.

"So it's a really tough league and it's only going to get tougher with the amount of quality players in the league."

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Andrew Maclean
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