Simpson calls time as Ardstraw manager

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Simpson calls time as Ardstraw manager thumbnailArdstraw manager, Gary Simpson, will step down at the end of the season.

"ENJOYABLE" was the word Gary Simpson used to describe his time as manager of Ardstraw FC after announcing he would be stepping down from the role at the Intermediate League club.

Simpson called time on his three and a half year tenure at the club after completing the league campaign in a 1-1 draw with Oxford United Stars at Vaughan's Holm last Wednesday night.

"It's only really been in this last three or four weeks that I've considered my position. I haven't took the decision lightly," he said.

"I've made a lot of friends at the club, and I have a lot of respect and time for the club for the efforts they've given me for the last three and a half years.

"A few personal reasons I've had to take into consideration. I'm fully supportive of the club to try and find the right man to try and take them forward even more.

"One word is 'enjoyable'. I've enjoyed lots of different aspects, making friends, working with the committee, they've always had belief in me. They couldn't have done enough to try to bring success to the club."

On Wednesday night, Ardstraw looked set to earn their tenth win of the campaign when a Robbie Godfrey goal had them leading with just minutes on the clock. However, Oxford struck in the final moments to share the spoils and bring the curtain down on Ardstraw's league season.

Simpson can look back on four cup final appearances and steady progress in the Intermediate League during his time at Ardtstraw. This season they racked up 29 points and currently top the league, but Portstewart look certain to pass them with six games in hand.

"There are ups and downs. We reached four cup finals, and this season we've had the highest number of points we've ever had, but we could have had more.

"I think the profile of the club has been raised in the past few years because of the finals we've got to. Unfortunately we weren't able to win any.

"I'd like to think that a lot of the players in the club have learnt a lot in the last few years. They're hopefully better players now, that is the only real mark I can leave. I've nothing but respect for the players as the effort and commitment they've shown has been really really good."

There is still football to be played though, and 'Straw will face Dungiven at home in the Intermediate Challenge Cup on Saturday, April 15.

"We are back into training and they message I've left with the players is, 'yes I'm stepping down at the end of the season, but there's a cup left to play for in a couple of weeks time.' All our focus is now on that.

Simspon though was unsure of his next move after the season. "The only plans I have is a schedule I've done up for the player from now until the end of the season. Where I go in football I'm unsure. Six years I've been in management, it is a lot of time and effort, lots of Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays. I don't know what the future holds to be honest."


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