THIS week, I have had to make the hardest decision of my managerial career, to leave a club I hold in the greatest regard.
As I put together these thoughts, I am waiting to be announced as the new manager of Woking FC, a club that has long been on my to-do list and one that presents a great challenge to me.
Yet my thoughts are constantly turning to the wonderful people attached to Hampton & Richmond Borough as well as the hundreds of loyal and supportive fans who have cheered myself and the players to a string of achievements in the last four seasons.
I was asked if I felt this way when I left my previous clubs, Walton & Hersham and Kingstonian. They were good times, too, but nothing compares to the special family I have found at Hampton. It is truly a unique club and I am constantly reminded of the familiar saying: “Once a Beaver, always a Beaver.”
I will miss my days at the ground, my trips to the cafe and visits to The Coopers, where I was always assured of a warm welcome.
I am grateful to the previous chairman, Steve McPherson, for taking me on, and I have developed a strong personal relationship with the current chairman, Graham Wood, who had the confidence to give me my first full-time job in football and has been my rock at times.
It was important that I left with good grace and dignity, if only for his sake.
It will feel strange coming back to The Beveree with my new team. I’m sure Hampton fans will not be at all surprised to know I will be straining every muscle to win the game – but that’s the way I am.
My own family has also embraced the spirit of this great club. My son, Ryan, was crying last Sunday when we lost so cruelly on penalties and he has been genuinely upset at the thought of me leaving.
But you have to reach out for challenges in life, and the one that presents itself now is a daunting one as I will be charged with returning a National League heavyweight to its rightful place back in the top flight of Non-League football.
As always, I will be totally focused on the job at hand – but will I be turning my back on the good friends I have made here? Most definitely, not.
I value true friendship and I look forward to the hugs and handshakes I am so used to from my Hampton family.
My very best wishes go to all involved at this special club.
Goodbye for now,
Updated 11:34 - 16 May 2018 by HRBFC Press Team