LES Jones has stepped down as manager of Pershore Town, with coach Stewart Watkins taking the reins, writes Colin Stoner.
Jones told the players last night (Tuesday) he was moving aside after 17 months as Plums boss but he will still remain an integral part of the club as director of football.
Watkins, the former Malvern Town youth manager who joined in the summer, will take charge for the first time on Saturday when Pershore head to Wednesfield and he will bring in his own backroom team.
Jones told the Observer the move had been in the pipeline for a while but the timing was now right.
Pershore’s top four hopes in the West Midlands League Premier Division suffered a setback last weekend with a 3-1 home defeat to Smethwick Rangers leaving them ninth – 11 points behind fourth-placed Dudley Town.
“It had been the plan that I would move into a new role as director of football and Stewart would become manager,” said Jones. “The question was when.
“When I came in last season the priority was to get us out of trouble when we were adrift at the bottom of the table. We were able to do that and this year we wanted to set out for promotion. That’s not quite happened and now I feel the timing is right to look forward again.
“Stewart will bring a new enthusiasm, a new freshness. He knows the players and what they’re capable of.”
As part of the changes, Derek Doyle, Jones’ No 2, will leave the club to take a break.
In a statement, Pershore chairman Paul Loader said: “We are pleased to announce Les Jones has accepted the position of director of football at Pershore Town FC. Over the last 18 months Les, with the support of Derek Doyle and Stewart Watkins, have worked hard to stabilise and develop the club’s first team squad.
“In line with the club’s plans, Les now takes on board this new role to support the club’s ambitions of developing a clear pathway for local players to develop from grassroots football all the way through to the first team. Les will work closely with both the youth and first team manager and players to develop this further ready for next season.
“The club are also very pleased to announce Stewart Watkins has accepted the permanent position of first team manager. Stewart has extensive coaching experience and has been working with Les and Derek over recent months to ensure this transition runs as smoothly as possible.
“Sadly Derek Doyle has decided to hang up his coaching boots and take a well-earned rest. The club would like to formally thank Derek for all of his hard work, dedication and advice over the last 18 months. Stewart Watkins will be confirming his new coaching team in due course.
“The first team currently sit ninth in the West Midlands Premier League and remain in two cups so everything is still to play for.
“The club wish Stewart and his new coaching team every success for the rest of this season and we will look forward to working closely with Stewart to further develop and strengthen the squad.”