MARK Bower has expressed his delight after his return to management and Guiseley AFC was confirmed at the end of April.

Having recently endured a frustrating past 18 months with Bradford (Park Avenue), the former Bantams defender is eager to push on with his coaching career and he believes he is at the right club to do exactly that.

Of course, he’s no stranger to Nethermoor, either, having played and previously managed The Lions, so he’s expecting a smooth transition into a club he knows well.

Speaking to the T&A following his move, he said: “I’m pleased to be back involved. Obviously, football is in the blood, and I’ve been away for five or six months now, so it’s time for me to get back into the swing of things again. It’s a really good and exciting opportunity to get back involved.”

With the difficulties faced during his last spell at Bradford (Park Avenue), which resulted in a relegation from the National League North, Bower admitted that he’s thrilled to be joining a competitive team within the Pitching In Northern Premier League.

He said: “The last few years at my previous job were very difficult and we were under some challenging circumstances; it was more of a survival job and that becomes quite draining after a period of time.

“At Guiseley the onus is on getting promoted and it’s about operating at the top end of the league, so, first and foremost, that’s the main attraction to this role – the fact that we can go and compete with the best teams in the league, while getting a group of players on the pitch who we believe can go and get the results we need.

“So, that was the main drawer, having something that we could go and attack with a view to competing at the top of the division.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mark Bower and Avenue had difficulties throughout his second spell with the clubMark Bower and Avenue had difficulties throughout his second spell with the club (Image: Gordon Clayton)

Avenue parted ways with Bower on November 6, 2023, with his side falling to a 2-0 defeat at Basford United that weekend.

The club were floundering in 18th place, which in hindsight, would have kept them in Northern Premier League Premier Division come the end of the season, however, back-to-back relegations were confirmed for the Horsfall side a few weeks ago as they finished 19th.

Bower, who has been without a coaching job for six months now, admitted that a break was needed in a bid to recharge his batteries.

He said: “I think we were very tired by the end of our second spell with Avenue, so we had a break and were able to watch a bit of football and get some time back.

“Looking around in that time, I didn’t think that there would be many opportunities to arise at the right level for us, but Guiseley were one of the very few that could do that.

“Luckily enough, an opportunity came up with them and I’m very grateful to be able to take it. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Reflecting on when he heard of the club’s interest, Bower said: “A couple of weeks ago.

“I spoke to one of the directors and then met up with the board, and from there it all happened pretty quickly. There are a lot of people there from the time I was here previously, so we know what to expect from each other.

“There’s a good nucleus of players already there too, so we were able to jump straight into it without much hesitation.”

Discussing the differences he’s noticed to when he was last at the club, he said: “Obviously, the level is a couple of divisions below from when we left, but there seems to be the same winning attitude around the club and that you’ll be well backed to do that.

“There’s a lot of familiar faces around the place too, which is nice. I played in the John Bridson charity match recently and there was a number of familiar faces within the stands and volunteering around the club.

“We are very grateful for the warm welcome we’ve received on returning to the club and getting the job.”

Bower faced off with Guiseley last season when he was in charge of Avenue, as the sides played out a 2-2 thriller at Nethermoor back in August, and he admitted that he was impressed with what he saw that day from The Lions.

He said: “There are some good players, some of whom have signed on already for next season, which is great news.

“It’s a team that finished three wins outside the play-off places, so it’s up to me to come in and add to what’s already there, so that we can make a push for the top five spots next time around.

“They had some really good wins against some of the best teams in the division, so they’re certainly capable of being in and around the play-offs once again. They might need that added consistency and experience to really push on and try and achieve that next season.”