How former Hearts manager Graham Rix is thriving as coach at Hampshire non-league club
Former Hearts head coach Graham Rix has been hailed for the part he is playing in the success of Hampshire non-league club Gosport Borough.
Now 63, the former Portsmouth boss and 17-time England capped midfielder arrived at the English Southern League Premier Division South in July as first-team coach.
It marked a reunion with Borough manager Shaun Gale, who made four Portsmouth appearances after coming through the ranks.
They were Warwick University’s class of 2002, enrolled on a star-studded Uefa B Licence course.
Among the pupils were Premier League title-winning skippers and distinguished internationals Tony Adams and Roy Keane.
Now two of their classmates are attempting to oversee high-flying Gosport Borough’s rise from the Southern League Premier Division South.The duo have so far taken Gosport into second place, having won 10 of their opening 15 league matches, most recently last weekend’s 5-0 hammering of Merthyr Town.
And Gale has paid tribute to the significant impact his old classmate has so far had on the club.
He told The Portsmouth News: “I have known Rixy a long, long time to be fair and he is a fantastic coach, I cannot speak highly enough of him.
“I did my B Licence with him 20-odd years ago, we were on the same course as Roy Keane and Tony Adams. I’ve also played golf with him many times.
“When Scott Green left, just before pre-season started, I wanted someone local, I didn't want someone travelling, and it had to be someone I could trust and that I knew.
“Graham came down, enjoyed it and has been here ever since.
“He’s managed at a higher level, was obviously a great player himself, has a lot of nous about how the game should be played, and gives clever things to players.
“Rixy is different to me as a character, but the players respond to him well and take it on board. The boys are learning all the time.
“He’s quieter than me for starters, he’s not really one to get really irate, a bit cooler than me at times, but it’s good to have a mixed balance.
“I don’t think you need two of the same. He won’t always agree with me – and I don’t want someone who is going to agree with me every week. I want someone who is going to challenge me and go “I wouldn’t do that” or “Maybe I would play him”.
“You need that, not someone agreeing with everything that you come out with.”
It was the summer departure of former assistant Green which forced Gale to turn to former Portsmouth, Oxford United and Hearts boss Rix as his right-hand man ahead of his second season with Borough.
And, on Wednesday night, they host struggling Kings Langley, seeking to close the gap on Southern League Premier Division South leaders Farnborough.
Gale added: “Graham is thoroughly enjoying it and doing great for me.”
Rix replaced George Burley as Hearts manager in November 2005 under the Vladimir Romanov, but only last four months.
it was suggested at the time that Rix was unhappy with Romanov's "hands on" and on March 22, 2006, Rix was sacked.
He went on to manage Oxford United before dropping into non-league football, taking charge of Sydenhams Wessex League club AFC Portchester between 2013-17.