Managing Non League: Adrian Costello

In the third of our interviews with current and former managers, Non League Yorkshire speaks to Garforth Town manager Adrian Costello.

Club(s) managed: Garforth Town (2015-present)

Garforth Town manager Adrian Costello (centre) with chairman Brian Close (left) and director Craig Bannister (right). Picture: Chris Mather

Garforth Town manager Adrian Costello (centre) with chairman Brian Close (left) and director Craig Bannister (right). Picture: Chris Mather

Few semi-professional managers will be able to say that their coaching career began as bizarrely as Adrian Costello’s did.

Eleven years on since becoming manager of his daughter’s under 10s team, Costello is A-License qualified and manager of a famous Non League team as well as an academy coach at Hull City, a recent appointment after a spell with York City.

But how it all started in football management for the former Army and Police Officer is fairly unusual.

“My youngest daughter Bethany said she wanted to go and play football so I rang the East Riding FA and said that,” says Beverley-based Costello, who is 51 in May.

“They say: ‘there is a club near who needs players – North Ferriby’. I took her and it was four until five on a Friday so I dropped her, but with it only being an hour and half-an-hour from my house I didn’t go anywhere.

“The old vice chairman called Albert Hoyle came up to me and said ‘are you staying’? So I said I was. He then said ‘you wouldn’t mind running the session would you because I’m a bit busy’? I’ll be back at five’.

“I let these kids run around for an hour and I was stood there until quarter-past-five waiting for Albert to come back. He never appeared again. We went back next Friday and there’s no Albert so I just ended up doing it and I thought: ‘lets do the courses as well’.

“I did my level one in 2006 and by 2010 I had passed my A-License. If I ever do anything I have to do it to the best of my ability so I did all the courses I could.

“When I first started coaching my daughter’s team, like all parents I was like ‘lets see how far this takes her, not me’.

“It was only by chance and the fact that training started in the working day at four and I was in the Police at the time and I finished at three that I was able to take her and become manager of the team.”

Costello is not a Non League novice by any stretch though as he served as assistant manager to Steve Richards at Hall Road Rangers in 2007, two years after taking charge of his daughter’s team. Richards, a serious Non League manager in his day from spells in charge of the likes of Guiseley, Ossett Town and Frickley Athletic, was a fellow Police Officer and Costello adds: “Steve taught me a lot about Non League football.”

But prior to 2005, his footballing activities were limited.

“I was brought up in Derbyshire in a mining village and did my schoolboy football for South Derbyshire until I was eleven,” he says. “We then moved to York and I played for York schoolboys in Osbaldwick.

“I joined the Army, but I was out in Germany around 1984 to 1987 and during one of them years I was posted out to a place called Dannenberg which was right on the old East/West border.

“I was a midfielder and I played for Dannenberg and it was German Non League. It was probably around the standard of Conference North in this country. I played there for a while and then I came back to the UK.

“I was in a globe-trotting unit so I was never anywhere for long. When I did eventually come back properly I ended up playing for my brother’s Police football team.

“But when I was 29 I had stopped playing and really fell out of love with the game. I wasn’t enjoying playing or either watching it.”

Costello enlisted in the Royal Signals at 16 and was as an intercepter operators. He spent 13 years with the Armed Forces. Deciding it was “time to set some roots down” he joined Humberside Police in 1994.

Eventually rising to the rank of Inspector, Costello saw his final few years with the Police working with the Home Office in Coventry. He also spent time in Abu Dhabi, working with their Police force.

When he retired his blue helmet, he returned to live, for two years, in Abu Dhabi, dividing his time with security work and the role as head coach of Abu Dhabi Thistle Football Club, an academy for players from the age of eight to 18.

His next footballing point of call was York City as an academy coach after returning to the UK in 2014.

But as someone always wanting to better themselves, Costello, inspired by the appointment of former Garforth defender Darren Kelly as Oldham Athletic boss, started to think about first team level management.

The departure of Graham Nicholas from Garforth to Ossett Town opened that door.

“A good friend of mine, Darren Kelly, got the Oldham job and I was speaking to him saying that he went from academy to first team football,” Costello adds.

“I said: ‘crikey that’s a big jump’. But he said that you can do anything if you apply your mind to it.

“So I thought I fancied going back into Non League. I spoke to Darren and couple of other people and then I saw the Garforth job on the NCEL website.

“I applied, spoke to (chairman) Brian (Close) and (director) Craig (Bannister) and obviously got it. It has been incredibly difficult, but I do enjoy it.”

Difficult is the operative word as Costello has had to rebuild a team that was left threadbare after the departure of the previous manager. Garforth have struggled to win matches, but the positive is that performances have been good. Surely the turning point is coming?

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