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Burnett quits as manager of Sydenhams League champions
Glenn Burnett resigned as manager of Wessex League champions Blackfield & Langley after their 5-0 weekend thrashing at Folland.
Burnett claimed that Langley’s decision not to apply for promotion to the Southern League failed to match his own personal ambitions for the club.
It also appears that widespread rumours of a difference of opinion over team selection were spot on.
The non-League circuit was buzzing last week about how a rift had opened between Burnett and Blackfield’s financial backer Sam Davies, the director of football – who was back watching on Saturday – because the manager had stuck to his guns over who played – and where – in B&L’s FA Vase third round win at Shepton Mallet.
Similar rumours surrounded ex-Saint Jon Gittens’ departure from the club in the summer of 2010.
And, asked if history had repeated itself, Burnett confirmed: “There was a player Sam didn’t want playing in a certain position in the Vase game, but I stuck to what I believed in and we won.
“I’m now missing out on the last 32 of the Vase, which would probably have been the biggest game I’d ever been involved in, but that’s my morals and that’s where I stand.
“There are plenty of ‘yes men’ out there, but I’m not one of them and never will be.
“If you want to pick the side yourself, don’t employ a manager.”
Blackfield were without eight absent players at the weekend, but all of them would have missed the game irrespective of the problems engulfing the club since it emerged that Davies had taken a back seat.
TJ Cuthbertson, Jack Smith and Mike Byrne were suspended, Joe Byrne has a dislocated shoulder, Scott Sampson and Craig Feeney were working, Alex Baldacchino was injured/ill and Maurice Stuart pulled up injured in the warm-up.
Despite the Watersiders enjoying another fine season, both in the league and the Vase, the club has opted against placing an application for promotion.
Last week Blackfield chairman Owen Lightfoot attributed the decision to the fact that it would cost the club in excess of £20,000 to meet the Southern League ground grading requirements.
While he acknowledged the reasons behind the clubs decision, Burnett – speaking immediately after his side’s 5-0 defeat to Folland – was left bitterly disappointed with the announcement.
He said: “I know it’s a difficult decision for the club and I can see why they haven’t gone for promotion because of the costs involved and the fan base isn’t there.
“But the fact of the matter is that I’ve decided to step down as manager because I’m an ambitious person and I’m ready to move on from the Wessex League.
“After winning the league last year I stayed on in the hope that we might make the move to try and go up this year but the club have decided not to go for it.
“It’s incredibly disappointing because I was under the impression that if we improved and went forward this year then promotion was the aim.
“It was a real low point last season when we knew we weren’t going to be going up despite winning the league and it has happened again.
Burnett denied his decision to leave the club was linked to the impending budget cuts at Gang Warily following Davies’ decision to take a back seat.
“People may say it’s because of the budget cuts which have been documented but it’s not about that at all, as I was at Romsey for two and a half years without a pound to the club’s name.
“Despite that, we managed two top ten finishes when we were competing against the likes of Sholing, Poole and Gosport.
Burnett added: “I’m involved in football to enjoy it and if I’m not then I need to get out. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t feel the same anymore.
“I’m a stubborn person and I know if something isn’t right for me, so I’ve had to make the decision.”
Despite his exit, Burnett looked back on his time at the club fondly.
He reflected: “They are a great group of lads and they have worked their socks off for me and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.”
Burnett’s trusty right-hand man and coach John McFarlane is staying put, as are coach Tom Barge, goalkeeping coach Reggie Palmer and co-assistant manager Chris Farrell.
“There’s no need for them to leave,” said Burnett. “In fact I almost want them to stay because I want these players to succeed.
“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and I travelled to Saturday’s game in a bit of an empty shell.
“I’ve got a lot of friends at Blackfield, but the situation didn’t feel right to me. “My heart told me not to go to the game because I’d already made my mind up to leave but, with so many players injured, it would have been a cheap thing to do.”
Burnett was assistant to Ashley Vickers during Blackfield’s 2012/13 title-winning season and stepped into the hot seat last summer.
“Our record over the last one-and-a-half years has been amazing,” he said. “We’ve achieved great things already and the side’s on the verge of even bigger things, but I’m just not comfortable with it.
“I’ve got full respect for everyone, from Sam Davies through to the management, but there was a disagreement over a player and I stuck to my guns.
“I’m an honest man and if we’d lost that Vase game and I’d done something I didn’t believe in, I’d never have forgiven myself.”
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