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Rowdies officially name Stuart Campbell to coach them out of slump

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies have a new, younger look.

The Rowdies named Stuart Campbell, 37, as their head coach on Thursday, replacing the fired Thomas Rongen in an effort to stop their slide in the NASL’s Fall Season. Campbell served as interim coach in a 3-1 loss to Minnesota Saturday night, drawing favorable reviews from the Rowdies over the way he had handled the team.

Campbell has been with the Rowdies since December of 2012, first as a defensive player, then as a player-coach and finally as a coach. In his first season, the Rowdies won the NASL Championship.

He has been a popular figure on the team, and his youth is sure to give the team a more relatable figure on the sideline. He also has the advantage of providing some continuity as  he assumes leadership.

“I have full confidence in Stuart’s ability to coach this team to victory,” said Rowdies Principal Owner Bill Edwards.  “Stuart has been an integral part of the club since his arrival, and has earned the respect of his players.  He will lead with the stability and unity necessary to win.”

Campbell, a native of Corby, England, spent most of his playing career with the Bristol Rovers in the United Kingdom, making 288 appearances for the Gas between 2004 and 2011. He was appointed club captain in 2006 and led the team to the quarterfinals of the 2007-2008 FA Cup, the best result in Rovers’ history. In 2011, Campbell was named interim manager of the Bristol Rovers with twelve games remaining in the season.

Campbell also played for Leicester City, Birmingham City and Grimsby Town in his playing career before joining the Rowdies. He also earned 14 caps for the Scottish National Team at the Under-21 level.

Last week was a whirlwind for Campbell. He was an assistant under Rongen on Saturday when the team lost to Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday was a trip to Indianapolis, and another loss. Rongren was fired on Thursday and by the time Campbell had to catch his breath, he was in charge.

His team lost to Minnesota, disappointing for Campbell since he had warned the Rowdies about the Minnesota counter-attack, which led to two goals.

Asked about the reaction of the team, forward Brian Shriver said: “Everyone’s fine. It’s part of the business. We all know that. You can’t dwell on decisions made, whether it’s playing time, trades, firings. That’s not something we can control. Everyone here is a professional. We know that’s part of the business. It’s a quality locker room, and we’re going to be just fine.”

It has been established that the Rowdies are a team of high goals, with Edwards scoffing at the five-year plan of the last administration and saying that he had a one-year plan. He talked about playing for championships.

Campbell said much the same with the announcement.

“I look forward to leading the Rowdies to another championship.”

The Rowdies had a good Spring Season, and thusly stand fourth in the combined standings.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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