After a six game spell at the end of last season Cray Wanderers can announce the appointment on a two year deal of Neil Smith as 1st team manager for the 2022-23 season.  Neil came to the Wands in late March and helped Cray get over the line in the battle to stay in the Isthmian Premier and has now committed to the club for the next couple of seasons making him the club’s first ever full time manager. 

Neil’s remit is to rebuild the squad and prepare the club for the start of the season as well as recruiting and building for the Cray Wanderers Academy which will be starting in September, the first to operate on a site that Cray Wanderers owns at Flamingo Park in Sidcup.

Neil pictured with Cray Wanderers Chairman Gary Hillman achieved huge success at Bromley establishing them in the National League and to an FA Trophy Final in 2017-18 and it is hoped that 'Smudge' can replicate that success with Cray Wanderers. As a player, Neil played in the Football League for Gillingham, Fulham and Reading gaining promotion with all three clubs and later into non-league football at Woking, Welling United, Bromley and Maidstone United. He took up coaching at Grays Athletic, Croydon and Lewes and then to Bromley in 2011 initially as Assistant Manager becoming first team manager in 2016 where he remained until March 2021. He came to Cray Wanderers in late March 2022 with six games to go and helped the club avoid relegation from the Isthmian Premier. 

Neil mentioned "I said to the owners when I came here I don’t just want to be a manager, I want to try to build the club from the bottom up.  We are here talking at Flamingo Park watching teams from the youth section playing on the pitches, boys and girls. This was something I wanted to do while I was at Bromley and we succeeded and this is exactly what I want to do now at Cray.  I want to build the club in the community, I want the  supporters to be proud of coming along and seeing the players give their all every week and hopefully with that building process we have some fun and enjoy winning games

I’ve signed for the future of the club because the potential and the project is so exciting. Growing a club, moving into a new stadium and home it really excites me, hopefully creating a new fan base and supporters coming through the doors, playing attacking football. Starting from scratch, we have a base to start from, I want it to grow and when I leave, whenever that may be, Cray Wanderers will be in a better position than when I arrived"

Neil will be assisted by ex Tottenham Hotspur player Tim O'Shea who was manager at Grays, Croydon and Lewes with Neil as Assistant Manager.