Devastation of missing out on play-offs forced Ironton's hand at Welwyn Garden City

Manager Nick Ironton and assistant Ricci Crace have both stepped away from Welwyn Garden City.

Manager Nick Ironton and assistant Ricci Crace have both stepped away from Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

Nick Ironton says the reaction of his players to the ground grading woes helped speed his decision to resign as Welwyn Garden City manager.

The boss brought an end to three years in charge at Herns Lane on Thursday morning by stepping down with immediate effect.

And he revealed their exclusion from the Southern League Division One Central play-offs wreaked havoc with the emotions of the squad.

He said: "Obviously when it first came out, it wasn’t good news and it hit the players quite hard. 

"I knew straight away it had affected the players but then we got the good news that we had won the appeal the night before the last game. 

"In our minds we thought if we got a good result at Kidlington, we’d have a chance at the play-offs. 

"When we met that morning and as soon as I saw them, I knew they were a completely different band of players again. 

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"We thrashed Kidlington, played unbelievable, and on the way home on the bus, everyone was euphoric. 

"I felt I had my team back. 

"But then I got the phone call on Sunday morning to say we’d been expelled from playing in the play-offs. 

"That was obviously devastating news for me but I’m a bit older and I can take it. 

"The minute the players found out, to say they were devastated was an understatement. Some were mortified and so disappointed. They felt they had been let down, which I can understand. 

"From the vibes I got, I knew straight away that some of the players would go. 

"They were really low and none of them have been in that position and they might not get that chance again. 

"Some had worked for three years to get in that position and the spirit has been unreal. 

"I knew something drastic had to be done. 

"I never heard from the club, nothing was said. I spoke to one member and conveyed my feelings and then spoke to the chairman on Thursday morning. 

"I need trust and the players need trust and I felt that wasn’t there anymore and so with that view, I resigned."

Ironton was touched by the amount of messages and best wishes given to him on social media after the decision and while it wasn't the ending he thought was in the script, he leaves with no regrets and a bucket load of memories to take with him.

He said: "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and had a great three years. 

"There are some wonderful people at the club who work tirelessly to get things done, the volunteers are great and the supporters have been absolutely magnificent. 

"I had no intentions of ever leaving and thought it would be my last club. I had some offers last year and declined them straight away. 

"Circumstances have obviously materialised and I have to be happy as well. 

"The most important thing though was the players and when I spoke to the senior management team, we all agreed.

"I feel a bit sorry for Ricci [Crace, assistant boss] because I wanted him to take over. He’s dedicated three years too, he’s missed his son playing football for Cambridge United to be with us so all those things you have to take into consideration. 

"It just came as a bit of a shock to everyone and it is a crying shame. 

"But we have some unbelievable days and I’ve got great memories.

"It is what it is and there is no point crying over what has happened." 

He wouldn't rule out taking another job but for the time being, a holiday and a bit of fun with his Middlesex Wanderers team is what takes his focus.

"You never know, watch this space," he said. "I’m definitely not going to do anything for the next six weeks. 

"Some managers have been sacked on the last few days and if committee members and chairmen and vice-chairmen look into just how much work some does, they might have a different view. 

"It is a thankless task at times. You are on the phone constantly, you’re trying to get players in, and once you get them in, they will trust you and my players trusted my implicitly. 

"And they have been absolutely magnificent for three years. 

"I’ve got no regrets, it’s been brilliant and I’ve really enjoyed it and we now have to look forward. 

"I’m still at Middlesex Wanderers, haven’t resigned from that yet, so we’re OK. 

"We’re going to Spain for a tour so that will be good."