Paul Down steps down as Jamie Manley takes over...

CHARD Town manager Paul Down has called time on his two-season stint in the dug out at Zembard Lane.

The former Wincanton and Mere Town boss is to step down at the end of the season having led the Robins to back-to-back midtable finishes in the Toolstation Western League Division One having taken over on the eve of the 2016-17 season with club in dire straights. Down guided the team to 10th spot last season with a similar finish likely after Tueday night’s 1-0 home defeat by Almondsbury with the curtain on Down’s rein set to fall tonight after the trip to Bishops Sutton.

In a statement on the club’s website Down said: “It would have been difficult for me to continue for another season, with no promotion or FA competition games to play.

“I think it is vital the ground situation is concluded to enable the next manager to achieve these targets.

“It has been a pleasure and honour to have managed Chard Town; I wish them every success in the future.”

Down’s successor is Yeovil-based Jamie Manley who was introduced the the existing squad before last night’s game and arrives spent much of his career with Sherborne Town. As a player, the 42-year-old lists Chard among his former clubs which include  Bridport and Gillingham Town.

After reverting to player-manager, and then manager, Manley has enjoyed success at Sherborne who he led to the Western League Division title back in 2012-13 and a highest ever (9th) placed finish in the Premier Division the following season.

Manley will be assisted by Kevin Leigh another well known face around senior football level in the area who also has previous experience at Zembard Lane having been number two to Bob Russell in the 1990s.

Manley said: “We (Leigh) are both looking forward to getting stuck into the job. It’s great to have the opportunity to get back in to management after a short break and can’t wait to get started at Chard.

“We had a chat with the lads after Tuesday’s game and they all seemed positive and said they will be reporting back for preseason training on July 3rd.”

Manley also confirmed that Chard have had the all clear to continue their 42-year unbroken stint in the Western League. This draws a line under previous fears that they would be demoted to the Somerset County League due to complaint from a visiting team three years ago which led to extra scrutiny from the FA concerning the slope of their pitch, particularly with the imminent alterations to the English Football pyramid.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.