Bradbury will need little introduction to Sports supporters, or indeed followers of Vanarama National League football. He arrives at The Lane after leaving Havant and Waterlooville, where he has managed the Hawks for the past seven years.
Lee played non-league football whilst serving in the British Army, but after making the move into the professional game, he made more than 500 Football League appearances for clubs including Manchester City, Crystal Palace, AFC Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Derby County, Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday. Lee took caretaker charge of AFC Bournemouth in January 2011 when Eddie Howe moved to Burnley. His position made permanent, he guided the club to the League One play-offs, losing to Huddersfield only on penalties.
In October 2012, after leaving Bournemouth, he joined Havant and Waterlooville as Manager. The Hampshire club were almost always pace-setters at this level, although the last three seasons have been nothing if not eventful! A surprising relegation to the Ryman Premier saw an immediate bounce-back in 2017 as champions. Then Bradbury’s side turned the success into a double promotion, climbing to the Vanarama National League for the 2018/2019 season just completed.
It might have been a step too high, too soon: as Borough supporters will ruefully recall, a South Coast club, training part-time and travelling eye-watering distances to northern opponents, faces enormous challenges, and Hawks slipped – by a quite small margin – back into National South. Lee parted company by mutual consent, but he is now looking forward to a new challenge at The Sports.
Football Chairman John Bonar said: “The appointment follows a very thorough selection procedure, in which a strong list of applicants for the post was whittled down to a target list of about half a dozen candidates. All of those candidates impressed the Board, and indeed any of them could have done a fine job for Eastbourne Borough.”
Signing a two-year deal at the Lane, Lee is relishing the new challenge. “Right across non-league, Eastbourne Borough carry huge respect, and I always enjoyed my contests against the Sports, and just as importantly the dealings with the great bunch of people who run the club and support the club. I believe that, knowing the National League as well as National South pretty much inside out, I can bring my experience to take the Sports forward – and to the next level. I cannot wait to get started!”
Lee will announce further members of his coaching staff in due course. After initial meetings with club officials and key workers, he is straight down to business, meeting the current playing squad at Priory Lane this evening (Tuesday). Close season? What close season!