Stourbridge FC manager Gary Hackett resigns

Stourbridge manager, Gary Hackett, has resigned after the club missed out on promotion from the Southern League Central.

The club confirmed the news in a statement. It comes after the Glassboys’ 2-1 play-off semi-final defeat at Alvechurch on Saturday.

Hackett has been in charge of Stourbridge for 16 years, overseeing two promotions and, with it, the club’s rise from also-rans of the local non-leagues to the one of the biggest non-league clubs in the West Midlands.

Prior to his time, the club had never qualified for the first round proper of the FA Cup.

It has qualified four times since, seeing matches against far bigger opposition such as Walsall, Plymouth – including the famous 2-0 replay victory which saw them televised live on ESPN – twice against Stevenage, as well as the victory over Northampton and the memorable run to the third round where they narrowly lost at Wycombe.

Arguably the biggest West Midlands non-league club in recent years has been Kidderminster Harriers – a side Stourbridge have beaten several times under Hackett – twice within a matter of a few weeks four years ago in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy.

During his tenure, the club won the Worcestershire Senior Cup three times, before winning the Birmingham Senior Cup last year for the first in half a century in a memorable final played at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s Stadium.

But there have been calls for him to stand aside from a section of supporters who had become frustrated with the club’s continued inability to rise up the leagues after being knocked out of the play-offs twice in three seasons.

It’s believed Hackett seriously considered resigning a year ago before having a change of heart, but the defeat to Alvechurch has made his mind up. In a statement, Hackett said:

“The timing is right for me to move on. It’s been an incredible journey, but to stay now would be for selfish reasons.

”In my heart I have probably taken the club as far as I can in the circumstances, and I can leave now on my own terms.

”This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to one result, but a considered decision in view of the events of the last week or so and in truth I need a fresh challenge.

”I’ll take a break from the game, but hopefully come back into it in the future with renewed energy.

“I would like to thank everybody for their help and support over the years in helping to create some amazing memories.

"Jon [Ford] and I took over in difficult circumstances in 2003 with very few players remaining from the previous season and operating on a tight budget and we had to put together a competitive side quite quickly, so I take immense satisfaction from how far myself and others have been able to move the club forward, both on and off the pitch.

”It’s been tremendous to watch the club’s fanbase grow in numbers and galvanise in strength during my time in charge.

”I will always look back with pride on the day we had at Wycombe in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup and see the away end packed with supporters and I’ll never forget the backing we received that afternoon before, during and after the match.

“I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to my support staff and backroom team for their unyielding support and commitment through the good and not so good times.

"Without their full backing, dedication to me and the Club and their valuable input during my time in charge, we wouldn’t have achieved half the things we have, and I am extremely grateful to them.

”I would also like to acknowledge the Board of Directors for their backing throughout.

"It’s been a pleasure, particularly, to work with Andy [Pountney], the chairman, these past few years.

"The club will always remain in my heart, whatever the future holds for me and I wish it continued success because there are many terrific and hardworking people working behind the scenes for the good of the club who I have come to know extremely well.”

Chairman Andy Pountney praised the loyalty and success of Hackett, adding:

“I would like to pay tribute to Gary for everything he has done for the club and the journey he has taken us on during his time in charge.

"Emotions may have been running high after yesterday's disappointment, but I am sure Gary's sixteen-year spell in charge of the Glassboys will be remembered for so many wonderful reasons when we've all had time to reflect.

"It's the stuff of legends. He's rewritten the club's history and pathway with all the outstanding FA Cup runs. I also class Gary as a good friend and I am sure that will remain the case.

"I have enjoyed working with him and between us helping to drive the club forward to the high level we now compete at.

”As to the future, we'll be making further comment in due course, but today is about Gary and the legacy he leaves."

Despite the disquiet from some supporters, Gary Hackett will be remembered most fondly as the manager who took the club from obscurity to the envy of the Black Country non-league football.

Given the records he has set with promotions, cup wins and FA Cup runs, Gary Hackett was the manager who made Stourbridge Football Club.

The Glassboys’ hierarchy now faces the unenviable task of having such big shoes to fill. With fans craving and even demanding the step up to National League football, the Board has monumentally important decision in working out who replaces him.


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