Stuart Crawford conceded Hadleigh United’s failure to build on last season’s title success was a major factor in his decision to resign as boss.
Having rejected the opportunity to apply for promotion from the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division last season, the Brettsiders could be left regretting their decision with the reigning champions 21 points off the pace this time round, sitting in sixth place.
And after leading the club to the greatest achievement in their history as well as a record run in the FA Vase — reaching the quarter-finals in the 2012/13 season — an inability to match those ambitions, appears to have led to Crawford leaving his role after almost five years at the helm.
“I have made the decision to step down from the role,” said Crawford in a statement sent to the Free Press. “There was a combination of reasons for stepping down, which all played their part in a decision that had been on my mind since the end of last season.
“After working hard over four seasons to build a title-winning squad within a tough budget, there was the natural disappointment of not getting promotion and the opportunity to test ourselves at the higher level (while I understood the club was not in a position financially to apply).”
That disappointment was further compounded with 10 members of the championship-winning squad leaving the club, including former professionals Tesfaye Bramble and Richard Logan, as well as top scorer Josh Mayhew, among others.
“To lose 10 of that squad between May and the first couple of months of this season was a bitter pill to swallow,” he conceded. “I could have stayed and spent the next couple of years trying to rebuild, but despite my strong connection with the club I felt it was time for a change.”
Despite his disappointment, Crawford took the opportunity to praise the work of chairman Rolf Beggerow.
“I am grateful to the chairman for offering me the opportunity to manage the club, taking me on at just 29 years old and with no managerial experience,” he added. “I will take away some great memories and proud achievements during the past two seasons and I wish the next manager and Hadleigh United FC continued success in the future.”
Meanwhile the chairman admitted his shock at Crawford’s decision to step down, but he remains confident the club can build on last season’s success.
“I was shocked at the news but I understand his decision,” he said. “We are still an attractive option and we have had a lot of interest already.
“Whoever comes in, I’m confident we can continue the good work of the past few seasons and continue to build.”
Hadleigh begin the new period without Crawford with a home game against FC Clacton on Saturday (3pm) as they aim to halt a run of three consecutive defeats, the latest coming in a 5-0 thumping at Norwich United.
On a forgettable afternoon, the Brettsiders found themselves 4-0 down at the interval as a Ben Thompson brace was added to by Matt Blake and former AFC Sudbury midfielder Matty Daniels.
The victory was sealed after the break as Paul Cook added the fifth and final goal.