It’s the end of an era at Westfield Football Club after the long-standing first team managerial set-up chose to call time on their reign.
Joint managers Tony Harris and Duncan Jones, and first team assistant Mat Ball have stepped down following the climax of the 2013/14 season.
Harris and Jones have been at the helm of the Sussex County Football League Division Two club for six years, while Ball has been by their side for the last five-and-a-half seasons.
Harris said: “I’ve been at the club 16 years and I’m proud of my association with Westfield. It’s a good club and I’ve enjoyed my time there. I’m a little bit sad to be stepping away, but I’m just generally tired of the commitment of being a first team manager at Westfield.
“I need a breather. I’m all over the place for work, I’ve got two young children and I want to spend more time with the family. The time and commitment in doing it, and the feeling you get back and feeling valued for what you do isn’t what it used to be.”
Harris, who will continue to run Westfield’s under-7s and under-8s with Jones, wished to thank the club’s committee for its support during their tenure.
“Our remit was always to keep the club in senior football and we’ve always achieved that,” he continued. “It would’ve been nice to go out with a few more trophies, but I do think as a club we punch above our weight.
“For the facilities we have and the fact that we’re probably one of the only clubs (in senior football) that don’t pay money, I think we’ve over-achieved to keep the club in senior football. Jon (Attewell), our groundsman, has done a wonderful job on that pitch and we make the most of what we’ve got.”
Jones was persuaded to join Westfield as a player by good friend Harris not long after the turn of the century and was a prolific goalscorer for the club before swapping the pitch for the dugout.
“Once I went to the club I kind of fell in love with it and although I had a few offers (from other clubs), I didn’t want to go anywhere,” said Jones, who works in London and lives in the Tunbridge Wells area.
“You don’t realise how fantastic the place is, but with personal commitments and everything, something had to give and we didn’t want to move away from the kids football because that’s important to us.
“It was time to take a break and let someone fresh have a go. It’s been challenging, but I’ve loved every minute of it. Tony and Bally are absolutely fantastic at what they do.
“I look at what we’ve achieved and I’m pretty proud of it. We won’t be going far and I fully expect most home games we’ll be standing there with a beer watching. Fingers crossed they’ll find the right person to come in.”
Whereas Harris and Jones played for Westfield before taking over from Steve Johnson as joint managers, Ball was something of an outsider having spent much of his playing career as a central defender with Hastings Town (now United).
He said: “We’re a team and we’ve always based our decision-making on two out of three being the right call. It would be a bit weird if one out of the three of us stayed on.
“We worked well together and it’s been a fun ride. I do want to put on record as well that Tony and Jonesy are outstanding coaches, and I do think they deserve a lot of praise for the work they’ve done in the six years they’ve been doing it.
“They’re really good, they work their backsides off and they’re not stepping away for an alternative job. but I do think when you look around the football scene they get pigeon-holed that they’re only little old Westfield. They’ll only get the credit they deserve when they stop doing it.
“Every club has people that do thankless tasks and don’t get rewards for it, but what certain people do for that club to keep it running is incredible. You couldn’t ask for better people and I wish them all the best.
“It becomes quite obsessive at times, and it’s time for a rest, probably time to step away and time to enjoy the family a bit more. It is demanding and it has been particularly difficult because you have to sell the club in a different way (in the absence of paying players).
“We always try and make sure the lads have new kit, we always put on decent football sessions and be quite strict with them. The lads we do have are loyal lads and they’re a credit to the club as well. They’re there because they enjoy the training and the club for what it is.”
Harris, Jones and Ball leave Westfield after winning the Hastings & District FA Senior Cup for the second time in the club’s history with a 3-0 victory over Bexhill United on Wednesday, last week.
Westfield chairman Graham Drinkwater said: “Westfield FC would like to thank Tony, Duncan and Matt for their efforts over the last six years, and wish them all the best for the future.” The club is yet to appoint a new managerial team.