CUMNOCK'S new manager Stephen Swift says he wants his side to be challenging for promotion to the Lowland League.

The Townhead Park boss admits promotion to the fifth tier may not come overnight, but insists that is his long-term aim for the East Ayrshire side.

Swift's move from Lowland League Broomhill to the top flight of the West of Scotland Football League was confirmed in mid-May as he became Nock's fourth manager in the space of 12 months.

He excited to get the season under way with Cumnock and says he has been more than impressed with the set-up at Townhead.

He said: “I wanted to finish the season off with Broomhill. I felt there were players there that we wanted to stick by because it had been a difficult season.

“It was important that we wanted to finish the season off, but obviously Cumnock came in, and when I spoke to them I knew it was the place we wanted to be.

“Everything behind the scenes, and the plans in place, blew me away.

“The town has been really vibrant. As far as the club, we put stipulations in place of what we wanted the standard to be like.

“To be honest, a lot of the standards were already there. The club have been absolutely outstanding for us and long may it continue.”

The new boss has been quick to ring the changes, with a major overhaul of the playing staff taking place in his first few weeks as he looks to put his stamp on the squad.

Among the new arrivals are Sam Ellis, Daniel Higgins, Cammy Chalmers and Josh Jack from the manager's previous club, former Partick Thistle defender Darren Brownlie, and goalkeeper Blair Currie, who appeared more than 200 times between the sticks for Stirling Albion before making the move to Townhead Park.

Swift added: “From the start of May we had a big job of recruitment.

“The players that were there were decent enough players, and Cumnock did okay, but what we decided was that we wanted to do it our way.

“We almost ripped it up. We’ve kept maybe four or five players from the initial squad.

“We wanted to keep some parts of that DNA in it but we wanted to put our own stamp on it.

“We signed five or six young ones that we worked with at Broomhill that we felt could step up to the mark, and we’ve signed some good, marquee senior players.

“I think we’re in a decent place. Only time will tell, though. It will take a bit of time to gel but we hope that will happen sooner rather than later.”

The former Stenhousemuir manager has also given Nock supporters a taste of what to expect from a Stephen Swift team.

He continued: “I’d expect my teams to play with high energy. We will be a possession-based team when we can be.

“We’ll have adaptability as well. You can’t just play a certain way in this league – you’ve got to understand what venues you’re going to and who you’re playing.

“I think if everyone buys into myself and my coaching staff then I think we will be in a good place.

“These things can take a wee bit of time but we’re hoping to hit the ground running.”

And Swift has been quick to emphasise that he intends to be in East Ayrshire for the long run - and to take Cumnock to new heights.

"We’ve set ourselves out a plan," he said. "We want to be here for the next few years.

“The biggest plan is an avenue up to the Lowland League, whether we can do it next year or whether it will take another year.

“It’s going to be so tough with the likes of Johnstone Burgh, St Cadoc’s, Beith have won the title two years in a row. Auchinleck Talbot, our neighbours, are always there or thereabouts, and you’ve got the Scottish Cup winners Darvel as well.

“It’s going to be a really competitive league so we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be tough.

“If we can get the boys concentrating on buying into us, the way we want to play and the standards we’re going to set then we should be in a good place.”

While the West of Scotland Football League will be new ground for Swift, he expects his previous managerial roles to stand him in good stead for the job at Cumnock.

In particular, he recalled his first stint in the dugout with Kilbirnie Ladeside in the old Junior leagues from 2012 to 2016.

He commented: “When I left Kilbirnie I felt we made great strides. I took Kilbirnie from the Championship to a really good place in the Premier League.

“We’re looking to do the same with Cumnock. When I took over Kilbirnie they weren’t an established Premier League team; they were when we left.

“There’s a slight difference with Cumnock being an established Premier League team, so hopefully we can go and be challengers.”

The Towhead boss feels his experience further up the pyramid with Broomhill and Stenhousemuir also helped develop him since that time in North Ayrshire.

"I’m a much better manager than I was two years ago," he said. "You’re always improving and you’re always evolving.

“I think the experience I’ve picked up will be absolutely vital for Cumnock.

“I think they’ve got a really good manager and hopefully I can prove that.”

Cumnock will get pre-season matches underway this Saturday, July 6, when they travel to face Linlithgow Rose at 1pm.