The Northern Ireland under-21 international, who was signed on at Stalybridge Celtic by fellow Ulsterman Jim Harvey in 2011, comes in following the dismissal of Gary Lowe this afternoon (Thursday).
A club spokesman said: “Darren’s with us to take a fresh look as we prepare for our last six games of the season.”
It’s understood that Kelly was highly rated by former Tigers owner Jon Manship who often considered bringing him to Ewen Fields.
Lowe’s departure will have come a surprise to many Hyde fans as it was understood the club could not afford to release him. It appears there was a clause in his contract — as there was for previous boss Scott McNiven — which allowed the Tigers to dispense with his services if performances fell below a certain level.
His assistant and coach, Martyn Booty, has not been dismissed and remains at Ewen Fields. Academy director Gareth Prendergast joins the coaching staff.
Disappointment with Lowe’s tenure had been growing for weeks. After climbing to fifth place in the Evo-stik NPL premier division Hyde have barely won a game since the end of October, managing two wins and three draws since new year. Cup performances were equally poor.
It’s understood matters came to a head over the last ten days. Despite a long list of injuries, Lowe made only one pre-deadline signing, 17-year-old Crewe goalkeeper Kieran Harrison.
Tactics were increasingly questioned, the team lost a vital six-pointer at Mickleover, and there was general disapproval of the manager’s programme notes for Monday’s Ashton United match, even though they were ghosted without Lowe’s knowledge. They were, however, based on comments he made on this website following the 2-2 draw with Rushall.
All in all it amounts to a sad end to what most Hyde United supporters expected to be a new and successful era after back-to-back Conference relegations.
Lowe led Hyde to arguably the greatest achievement in their 131-year history when they won the National League North championship in 2012. He quit at the end of the season after a dispute with Jon Manship but there was general delight when he returned to Ewen Fields at the start of 2015.
Many were convinced he would pick up where he had left off and that the Tigers would win the Evo-stik NPL championship at the first attempt. Instead, Hyde have fallen perilously close to the relegation zone and are only three points clear of fourth-bottom Whitby Town having played two games more.
Gary Lowe was not answering his phone this evening.