Thu, 30 Apr 2020
IAN Herring has expressed his gratitude to Hungerford Town and said that the club will always hold a ‘special place’ in his heart as he made the decision to step down as manager.
The announcement came on Wednesday evening (yesterday) that after almost three seasons in charge at Bulpit Lane, he would be leaving the club.
The news comes a week after it was revealed that the remaining games in the National League South would be cancelled, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Despite an outcome not being made by the league, in terms of how the league table would finish, Herring explained his decision for stepping down.
“The National League announced they were ending the season and that coincided with my contract coming to an end, which was due to be finishing this week.
“The chairman [Patrick Chambers] verbally said that he wanted me to stay on and mentioned budgets, but that was before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Although it was mentioned, there was no formal offer in place and I made contact with the chairman with my thoughts for the future of the football club and the structure that I wanted to put in place.
“I put a proposal out about how the playing structure should be to give the players the best possible environment.
“I also had a long term plan about how to unify the club, but unfortunately the chairman didn’t agree with it and there were no negotiations, so I felt I couldn’t work in the environment and it was best for everyone if I was to step down.”
Herring wanted some reassurances in place for next season, but after discussions with Chambers they were unable to come to some agreement.
“I don’t want to be stepping down because I first joined the club in 2012 and the club will always hold a special place in my heart.
“It’s a wonderful football club with wonderful people.
“From what I have been through in my personal life, mental health and the psychology of the players is my number one priority.
“There were certain things that I wanted to make happen and they weren’t going to be done,” added Herring.
The former midfielder moved to Hungerford in 2012 after having spells with Swindon Town, Forest Green Rovers and Chippenham Town.
Herring played a pivotal role for Town in two play-off promotions, which included him scoring a crucial goal against Merthyr Town in 2016 – they year they were promoted into the National League South.
“It is filled with lots of good memories,” he said. “I have to thank Bobby Wilkinson and Nigel Warwick for bringing me to the football club.
“I have met a lot of very good players and I have had good experiences with two promotions at the club.
“Getting into the Conference South was special, but in our first season we finished very high and in that same season I was named Player of The Month by the league and I am extremely grateful for that.”
After Bobby Wilkinson’s departure in 2017, Herring took the role as joint-manager along with Jon Boardman.
“It came around quite quickly, but myself and Jon put ourselves forward and we said we’d steady the ship until the club found someone else.
However, Boardman left Bulpit Lane in early 2018 and this left Herring in sole charge of the club, but he was still acting as a player/manager.
Due to off field commitments, Herring retired as a player to commit his efforts to being a manager and in May 2018, it was announced that he put pen-to-paper on a two-year contract at Bulpit Lane.
“I spoke to a lot of people who have combined playing and managing and a lot of people who hadn’t done it said it couldn’t be done.
“However I was a firm believer that it could be and if things were different in terms of the structure, I feel I’d still be playing football now.
“I don’t regret ending my playing career because I knew the time was right at Chippenham when we were 1-0 down because I dragged myself off after 20 minutes.”
It was a difficult transition for Herring, who had to make decisions for the football club.
“Each season has been hard, the first one was particularly hard because I played with a lot of the players in the dressing room and I respected them as friends.
“I was given the task of cutting their wages so that was hard and it didn’t sit well with me because I had to try and bring players in.”
At the end of his first season, Herring saw his side beat East Thurrock United 1-0 on the final day to avoid the drop.
And a year later, the 36-year-old guided Hungerford to safety once again in dramatic fashion.
A 94th minute equaliser from Noah Chesmain in a 1-1 draw with East Thurrock, resulted in Crusaders avoiding the drop.
There were jubilant scenes at Bulpit Lane on the final day of the season and Herring explained that it’s the fans who make the club so special.
“The supporters are extremely special and you’ll get every manager saying that about their fans, but I have a lot of friends there.
“I go into the bar and I speak to them whether we win, lose or draw and they understand where the club has come from and what it has been through.
“Their support through the tough times has been unwavering and I don’t think anyone has ever doubted me because they have had the belief in myself and the players.”
The Crusaders faithful has supported Herring both on and off the pitch and it’s because of that he found it difficult to make his decision.
“They have clubbed together with finances and I believe if they didn’t help out with the budget then we wouldn’t be in the National league South today.
“They are a fundamental reason why this decision was so hard and there is an element of me feeling like I have let them down because I am walking away from a club we all love.
“Like I have said there are reasons for it, but now I am one of them – I am a Hungerford Town fan and I’ll do everything I can to help the new manager, whoever that may be.”
The support continues to come on social media for the former player and he feels that he has developed as a person since taking over as manager.
“I invest a lot of time and emotional energy and what I invest into a group of players is very much on the mental health and psychological side of the game.
“They could be dealing with problems so it’s important there is psychological support and that their mental health and well-being is cared for.
“I invest that into the players and I try to treat them in the same way I want to be treated because I am open, honest and I want things to be done that way.”
Although football has taken a step back at the moment, Herring has realised that he doesn’t want to be away from the game for long.
“I have been in football a long time,” he said. “I have had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of rejections and at one point I thought I didn’t like football.
“Over the last three or four years I realised I’ve never fallen out of love with football. I love working with other people and I love trying to help develop young players.
“I haven’t made the decision with anything else in the pipeline. I have got myself fit so if I can play for a little bit then I will and if I get an offer to coach then I will.
“However at this moment I am not actively looking to do anything, but if the club want advice or anything like that then I will help them because I want to see Hungerford Town do well.”