FORMER manager Tom Rothery insists he is leaving with his head held high but safe in the knowledge the time is right to step down as Brightlingsea Regent boss.

The former Needham Market head coach resigned following Saturday's 3-2 defeat at home to Lewes.

He took over in October 2017, leading the club to safety in their first season at step three level.

He then guided them to their highest-ever finish last year, being in with an outside chance of the play-offs before finishing 13th.

He leaves with Brightlingsea 16th in the BetVictor Isthmian League premier division, heading into tomorrow's home match against Enfield Town.

"Deciding to leave wasn’t an easy decision but it feels like the right time and, ultimately, I've stopped enjoying the thing I love to do," said Rothery.

"It's like a relationship break-up.

"You remember the good and bad times but sometimes you just know when it's time to move on.

"My only regret, and it's a deep one, is the fact I'm leaving partway through a season. That would never be my choice.

"But I knew as soon as the final whistle went at the weekend that my time was up. That was me done.

"I can't give anymore and didn't feel I had any choice.

"I'm disappointed because it's taken me 11 years to get to this level (managing at step three).

"But the time's right and I back my decision 100%."

In addition to last season's league success, Regent enjoyed their best-ever runs in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy.

They reached the third qualifying round in both and, in the FA Cup, they bowed out after a memorable home tie against former Football League side Torquay United, watched by nearly 500 people.

"I'm always hyper-critical of myself and brutally honest, sometimes to my detriment," added Rothery, who believes one of the successes in recent years has been the link-up with the club's reserves and under-18s, creating a clear pathway for the likes of current first-teamers Jordan Barnett and Charlie Lindoe.

"But I've only ever wanted what's best for the club.

"I'm gutted and disappointed in myself but don't feel I've let anyone down.

"It's a really tough job, given the limited resources, but I'm proud of the fact we've maintained step three football.

"It’s been a testing time recently, on and off the pitch, but I can honestly say I've always given my all and done everything in my power to try and create an 'all-in it together' mentality.

"I'm pleased with the job I've done and feel we've won more points than we've lost.

"I've always tried to knit everything together, by giving everything and working as hard as possible, be it watching games, players or even videos.

"I've tried to be the best I can be, to make my team the best they can be."

Rothery believes much of the club's success in recent years has been down to the tireless efforts of those behind the scenes.

And he hopes that continues, regardless of who succeeds him.

"I’m sorry and disappointed I didn’t get to personally thank everyone for everything they've done in my two spells at the club, because I'm truly grateful," he said.

"I just hope those people stick together and keep the club united and pushing on, with a smile wherever possible.

"The club are lucky and have a deserved reputation for being so welcoming.

"It's because those guys are such great, committed and hard-working people."

Pip Boyland, Rothery's assistant, will take the team for tomorrow's match against Enfield Town, assisted by John Albon and Alan Wright.

And Rothery believes his former right-hand man would make an excellent successor at the Taydal Stadium.

"Pip's an excellent, knowledgeable coach and someone I've got so much respect for," he said.

"He's honest, straight down the middle and doesn't have ulterior motives.

"He'd make an excellent manager, assuming he wanted the job, and I dearly hope the club stay up and continue to do well in the future.

"Hopefully my replacement comes in with real drive and enthusiasm, to give the place a lift."