Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Riz Mohammed admits landing the Albion Sports manager’s job is a dream come true and a “real honour”.
His connection to Albion goes way back as he played for their original junior team and even avidly watched their early days as a Saturday side under the legendary Kully Sandhu.
The former Thackley coach ascended to the throne last week after the exits of joint managers Danny Brown and Ishy Hussain and he’s extremely proud.
“I played for first Albion Sports junior side, under 14s or something,” Mohammed told Non League Yorkshire.
“We weren’t very good!
“Some of the original (Albion Sports juniors) players were myself, Karl Hall who previously had a good stint at Albion, Micah Bleau, Liam Charles and Ryan Basi who has come back.
“Albion at the time were a Sunday League team and they were quite successful and they want to set up a junior section.
“I played for them for three years until my age group folded.
“But I’ve watched them since I was a kid as they played up the road from me.
“So every week at Myra Shay Road they’d be 100 people from the community watching them and they were still an amateur side then.
“I’ve said to my wife that this is the one job (I wanted).
“In my community, this is the biggest manager’s job you can have.
“Historically Albion has been an Asian club so being an Asian, to be manager is the biggest job I can have and it is a real honour.”
Although the moment is the pinnacle so far of his management and coaching career, Mohammed has no time for celebration parties.
Albion arrested the alarming slump of nine straight defeats with Saturday’s incredible 3-2 win at Silsden but the situation is still serious.
“There’s two ways about it, we’re in a relegation battle, it is as simple as that,” he said.
“Sometimes your playing philosophy has to go out of the window because we have to get results and points on the board.
“The teams around us are starting to get stronger.
“Hemsworth got a result against Albion and they’re looking to get some results together.
“December is probably the toughest month for us because we are playing all the top teams and there is quite a lot of away games.
“We have to keep fighting, keep believing.
“The talent is in the squad and I just think that once we get a bit of structure, time together and time where I get to establish how I want us to play then I think we’ll start to get results.”
The fighting spirit was there all to see at Silsden as Albion were 2-0 inside 40 minutes and staring down the barrel of a tenth straight loss.
Danny Facey pulled one back before Omar Habeeb equalised and Robbie Fox won it late-on.
Mohammed was thrilled with many aspects of the game.
“I was really pleased with the character and the fight that the lads showed in the comeback,” he said.
“Many people might not see this but I think the game changed at half-time.
“I brought Omar Habeeb on and people like him make me proud to do what I do.
“He’s been out two years with injury as he did his ACL.
“It is a big bonus to him that on his return to Albion that he came on at half-time and changed the game and scored the equaliser.
“He created serious chances within the game.
“I know Robbie Fox has previously played at Silsden and he had the grit between his teeth and he put in a brilliant performance for a young lad.
“The other highlight for me was seeing the fight.
“It brought back memories of the old Albion teams I’ve watched.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster.
“Because of the change and transition in managers, I think the lads seemed a bit nervous in the first half.
“They were unsettled and I went into the game without a training session.
“I’m still getting to know the players and what the best formation to play is.
“We got off to a slow start and it doesn’t help when your defence is low in confidence and you’re playing against one of the best attackers in the league in Mohammed Qasim.
“At 2-1 down at half-time I felt I needed to make a change and I made a change in tactics and we were much better in the second half.
“(The win) was more of a relief than anything.
“A lot of weight has been lifted off the shoulders of a lot of people at the club.”
Albion are away at leaders Grimsby Borough on Saturday.