STOCKBRIDGE admit their decision to resign from the Sydenhams Wessex League Division One was a painful one.
But the 120-year-old west Hampshire club say they had no choice after having the stuffing knocked out of them by two cruel body blows.
First they lost most of their players following the twin departure of managers James Banks and Terry Chapman at the end of November – just a matter of months after being appointed.
Then, having been given two weeks off by the SWL to sort themselves out, the stormy, wet weather conspired against them, resulting in 14 matches in a row being postponed.
As a result, the new squad assembled by former manager Barry Andrews didn’t manage to play a game and, inevitably, some players drifted away, leaving Stockbridge with just a skeleton side.
In addition, the torrential rain has delayed the completion of the Robins’ new changing rooms which are unlikely to be finished now until the end of the season.
A club statement said: “After taking a long, hard look at the situation, we concluded it was in the best interests of everyone that we declared our position early to lessen the inconvenience to other clubs in the league.
“The two new managers leaving the club at the end of November, taking all but two of our players with them, left us in a terrible predicament. Barry Andrews set about trying to get a squad together to see us through the season. He did a great job and we really appreciate all he did for us.
“However, the weather conspired against us and some of the players drifted away and we were left with 21 games to play to get through the season.
“With our pitch still waterlogged and unlikely to be fit for another few weeks, we could not see how we could complete our fixtures. And, with the penalty for missing each game a minimum of £250, we could not risk the club going bankrupt.
“This club has a proud 120-year history and what has happened to us hurts, especially for those of us who have been with the club for many years.”
Stockbridge, though, are not about to throw the towel in.
They plan to rebuild a senior team with the aim of progressing back into the Wessex ranks as soon as possible.
We are told the FA will decide at what level we may return next season, so not much can be done on that front until we know the position,” the statement continued.
“On the positive side, we have six more local people who have joined our committee, which will strengthen the club as we work through the current problems.
“In the meantime, our four youth teams will continue to keep the flag flying for the club.”