Which head coaches have managed the most games in the National League?

alan devonshire

Football management is often an arduous and thankless task in any division. The National League is no different, and often, head coaches don’t get much time to prove themselves in the fifth tier.

However, there is a group of head coaches in the National League whom clubs have shown their faith in and have managed hundreds of games in the fifth tier. Here are the head coaches who have managed the most games in the National League:

Alan Devonshire (486 matches with Braintree Town and Maidenhead United)

The former West Ham midfielder has managed the most games in the fifth tier, racking up an incredible 486 games in management in the National League.

Devonshire has managed just two teams in the National League, Braintree Town and Maidenhead United, the second of which he has managed twice.

At the time of writing, Devonshire is still the head coach of the latter, having been appointed for his second spell in May 2015.

He led his current charges to promotion to the National League from the National League South in season 2016/17.

Luke Garrard (384 matches with Boreham Wood)

Garrard has been the ultimate one-club head coach in the National League, managing Boreham Wood in 384 matches. He took his current role in October 2015.

Garrard took Boreham Wood to the National League play-off final in 2018, only to suffer a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat against Tranmere Rovers.

He also led his team to the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history in 2022. However, their run ended with a 2-0 defeat at Premier League Everton.

Gary Mills (303 matches with Tamworth, Wrexham, York City and Gateshead)

The former Nottingham Forest midfielder has plied his trade at four clubs during his National League managerial career over seven seasons.

His longest spell with any of his clubs in the fifth tier was at Tamworth, where he managed the team in 189 games between January 2007 and October 2010. He had already worked for the Midlands team earlier in his career, from January 2001 until May 2002.

However, his most significant success came at York City when he led the Yorkshiremen to the Conference Premier final and the FA Trophy on two occasions.

Steve Burr (299 matches with Kidderminster Harriers, Chester and Southport)

Burr spent eight seasons as a National League boss at four different clubs, racking up 299 matches in the process.

The longest stay at any club during his managerial career was at Kidderminster from January 2010 until January 2014, where he managed the club in 205 fifth-tier matches.

Paul Hurst (296 matches with Grimsby Town)

The Sheffield-born Hurst has had three separate spells as Grimsby Town boss, and the Mariners are the only club he has managed in the National League.

He is a popular figure among Town fans, having helped the club to promotion to the EFL via the play-offs on two occasions in 2016 and 2022. Hurst also took Grimsby to the FA Trophy final in season 2015/16.

John Askey (280 matches with Macclesfield Town, York City and Hartlepool United)

A Macclesfield Town hero from his playing days, Askey managed the Silkmen twice during his managerial career. His first spell came from October 2003 until April 2004. He returned for a longer spell in April 2013 until June 2018.

Askey has also managed York City and Chester City in the National League, the latter of which he left in December 2023 after less than a year in charge.

Askey led Macclesfield to automatic promotion to the EFL in season 2017/18 and also to the FA Trophy final in 2017 while leading York City back to the National League in 2022.

Garry Hill (273 matches with Ebbsfleet and Woking)

Hill racked up an impressive 273 games as a National League boss with Ebbsfleet and Woking. The majority of his games as a fifth-tier manager came with the latter, who he managed on 233 occasions in the National League.

Arguably, Hill’s biggest achievement during his managerial career was leading Woking back to the National League in season 2011/12. However, he also helped Weymouth to promotion to the fifth tier in season 2005/06.

Justin Edinburgh (224 matches with Gillingham, Northampton Town and Leyton Orient)

The now-sadly deceased Edinburgh managed three clubs in the National League, Gillingham, Northampton Town and Leyton Orient.

The former Tottenham star won the National League title with Orient in season 2018/19.

Unfortunately, on June 8th 2019, just weeks after winning promotion, Edinburgh passed away due to the effects of a cardiac arrest five days earlier. He was just 49 years of age.

In January 2020, Leyton Orient announced that Edinburgh would have a stand named after him at the club’s Beyer Ground Stadium.

Who is your favourite National League boss from our list?

By Bob