KYLE Critchell labelled as a “whirlwind” his first year in charge of Portland United.

Critchell will celebrate his one-year anniversary at the Camp & Satherley Stadium today when Hamble Club, against whom Critchell earned his maiden win as boss, visit the islanders (3pm).

Along with assistant Jamie Symes, Critchell has overseen 46 matches and won 25 of them, losing 14 and drawing seven for an impressive 54.3% win rate.

Critchell and Symes helped the Blues finish strongly in the 2022/23 Wessex League Premier Division season, collecting 11th.

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In the 2023/24 term, the Blues are currently in sixth with a genuine chance of the play-offs having enjoyed a stellar season.

And Critchell reflected on the huge progress made at Portland in his first year in charge.

He told Echosport: “We’re proud and privileged to be in control of Portland. With regards to the progress, that’s down to the squad we’ve got, the volunteers, the committee members that work at Portland.

“I want to thank everybody for that help. It’s been a whirlwind and there’s still so much more we can achieve.

Dorset Echo: Kyle Critchell today celebrates his one-year anniversary at PortlandKyle Critchell today celebrates his one-year anniversary at Portland (Image: IDRIS MARTIN)

“We’re excited to try and build upon it. The club has always talked about the pathway and we try not to use that word too much.

“You can just see now the fruits of our labour. So many players from the under-18s that are getting opportunities in the reserves and so many reserve players feature in the first team.

“That shows the mark of our success. Sometimes, it doesn’t come down to numbers, or where we are in the league. It comes down to how many opportunities young people in our local area are getting.

“Hopefully, the next stage in that development is players leaving us and going to clubs higher up in the pyramid. Then I know we’ve fully done our job.

“We’ve still got a bit of time here and a lot of work to do.”

Critchell also spoke of the supportive atmosphere at Portland, given the Blues employed a manager embarking on his first job.

“There’s lots that I didn’t understand and know, so it’s been a great learning experience for me and Jamie,” Critchell added.

“That grows and moulds you as a human being, so we’re definitely learning and improving upon things and I’ve made many mistakes along the way.

“I’ve got the environment to make those mistakes and the support from the committee to make them. Hopefully they haven’t been too bad because we’ve had a lot of success.”