STUART Hussey has left Totton & Eling and accepted an invitation to join the coaching team of FA Vase winners Sholing.

Hussey, his older brother and co-boss Matt and coach Dave Puckett have stepped down after 16 months at the Millers Park helm, proud of the fact that, against the odds, T&E have lived to fight another day in the Sydenhams Premier Division.

In one of the most testing seasons the Husseys can remember, they helped hold the club together against a backdrop of behind-the-scenes upheaval and a huge turnover of players which meant rebuilding the squad twice over.

At one point relegation looked inevitable, but four crucial wins in their last nine league games miraculously kept them up with ten points to spare.

Rather than make a snap decision, the brothers have been mulling over their future for past three weeks and have eventually concluded that now is the time to go.

But, as the younger Hussey pointed out, they are proud of the fact that they saw the season through.

“We’re extremely proud of the job we did at Totton & Eling which was probably the hardest we’ve had in management,” he said.

“I genuinely feel it’s an achievement for T&E just to have stayed in the league and for us to have stuck by the club all season when so many people couldn’t believe we were still there.

“I’ve never known a club with so many injury problems, plus we had lads who thought they could commit to Wessex football but were unable to. The fact we used 70-odd players says it all.

“We also had the chairman (Ed Holmes) leaving but, throughout it all, Matt, Dave and myself maintained our professionalism.

“It’s probably the lowest finish (18th) we’ve ever had, but it’s the hardest we’ve ever worked.

“We did all we could to get the best possible squad out for every game and I believe that’s what kept us up.

“Anyone who knows anything about T&E knows what a difficult job it is and we leave there proud of what we’ve done.

“The chairman Angus Steel is a good mate and we part on good terms and wish him and the club well.

“If it hadn’t been for us sticking around and Angus coming in, I honestly don’t think there would have been a Totton & Eling. It would have fallen apart.”

With business and a new baby to concentrate on, older brother Matt is taking a temporary break from football.

Stuart, though, is excited to be joining his old club Sholing as they prepare to return to the Southern League under the new management of Dave Fear and Mick Marsh.

“I’m joining the first-team coaching staff and will be working particularly with the attacking players,” he said.

“It suits me because I only live a minute from the ground and the time’s right to do something different. I look forward to giving Feary and Marshy my 100 per cent backing.”

Ex-Saints and Bournemouth striker Puckett is also discussing a possible coaching post with the Boatmen.

  • Jeff Softley has been relieved of his managerial duties following Downton’s relegation to Sydenhams One. The new man at the Wick Lane helm is former Robins goalkeeper Colin Hopkins.