Sidmouth Town boss departure: “The time was right.”

Sidmouth Town at home to Bravehearts. Ref shsp 18 18TI 2012. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Town at home to Bravehearts. Ref shsp 18 18TI 2012. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Since the news broke earlier this week about the imminent departure from Manstone Lane of Town boss Josh Stunell, the Vikings chief has fielded a constant stream of phone calls.

Stunell remains, of course, the Town boss until this season is completed and, if Town won last night’s Morrison Bell Cup semi-final meeting with Seaton Town (check out how they got on at then his final time in the dugout will be in that competition’s cup final taking place at Ottery at the end of the month.

Stunell says: “I have honestly been left humbled with the number and range of calls I have received since the news broke. It’s been a right royal mix of ‘why’ and ‘what next’ and both those questions are easy to answer in as much as it is now because the time’s right.

“After four years of first stabilising the club and then seeing it through the introduction of additional teams to the four we have today and, of course, Manstone Lane now has a superb set of floodlights that were always on my agenda to get behind and make sure that particular dream was realised.”

He continued: “I have gone on record many times in the past about how good a club Sidmouth Town is. There are some serious football folk involved at Manstone Lane and they deserve to succeed. From my point of view, and that of John [Town assistant boss John Clements], it was just a case of feeling that we had taken the club as far as we could.”

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As for what next? Stunell replies: “Hand on heart, there is nothing lined up, but football is in my blood. It will be nice to be able to take stock of things over the next six to eight weeks and take time to look at what might be around and where, if anywhere, I might end up. I think it is very much one of those ‘never say never’ moments, so I am not going to be one of those departing managers who says that this is my lot.

“Who knows? The one thing I would say is that it will be very refreshing for me to be able to sit back, take stock, perhaps watch some football, and then wait and see if the phone rings.”

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One of Stunell’s final tasks as Town boss – apart from seeing the side through to the conclusion of their Morrison Bell campaign – was to hastily put together a side to play the Devon and Exeter League XI in a warm-up game before their Inter-League competition.

He says: “Billy [League XI manager Billy Rouse] is someone I have a lot of time for and when he asked if I could throw together a side to give them a game I was happy to oblige. It was during that process of, quite literally, throwing together a team, that I realised just how many friends I have in football.

“One thing I can say is that I think over my four years at Town I have had fall-outs with only a couple of players – literally two – and when I was asking lads who would play against the League XI, not one of them turned me down – they all seemed very happy to say yes and get involved and that made me feel vindicated in my belief that, while at Manstone Lane, everything we have done has been for the right reasons and we have made plenty of friends along the way.”

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