James Collins quits Chatham Town: I feel that the club both on and off the pitch are in a better position than when I arrived and that is something I have always set out to achieve at any club I have been at
JAMES COLLINS says he is feeling gutted that he was put in a position where he had to resign as Chatham Town’s manager on Monday.
Collins, who took over from Paul Piggott on Wednesday 27 September 2017, when the club were sitting in the bottom four in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division, was in charge for 102 games in all competitions.
Chatham Town celebrated winning 59 wins, drew 17 and lost 26 games during Collins' tenure and they celebrated a cup winning double last season, winning both the Kent Senior Trophy and Challenge Cup.
Chairman Kevin Hake appointed a director of football in the shape of Carl Laraman, 57, behind Collins’ back, who decided to resign from his managers role at the Maidstone Road club, because of the appointment.
Laraman spent 13 years at Premier League giants Arsenal, coaching the under nines right through to becoming the assistant manager of the clubs under 23 side under Steve Gatting, before leaving the club in June 2018.
Prior to that, Laraman was a coach at Charlton Athletic where he coached the younger players at The Valley during a nine-year stay.
Laraman was Chatham Town’s manager between 1998-99 and during his playing days the midfielder played for Charlton Athletic, Sittingbourne, Dartford, Crawley Town, Bromley, Sheppey United, Thanet United, Chatham Town, Whitstable Town, Faversham Town and Tonbridge.
Hake and Laraman were in charge of Chatham Town’s 2-1 home win over struggling Punjab United on Tuesday night and the club are sitting at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 24 points from 12 games.
Beckenham Town closed the gap on Chatham Town and are now level on points following their 4-1 home win over Crowborough Athletic last night, although Jason Huntley’s men have three games in hand.
“First of all, I would like to thank Chatham Town and in particular chairman Kevin Hake for giving me the opportunity to manage Chatham Town just over two years ago,” said Collins.
“It was club that from early on in my management career I always hoped I would have the privilege of managing and I will be forever grateful to Kevin for taking a chance on me.
“Managing the club was everything I imagined and more. As a club, supporters, players and board members we have had some amazing moments, of course winning the Kent Senior Trophy and the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup are stand out memories, but for me seeing 800 Chatham Town supporters packed behind the goal in the Kent Senior Trophy Final, the celebrations on the terrace when Richard Avery scored the winning goal in the Challenge Cup Final, the celebrations in the clubhouse after wins at home games and the joy so many got from those victories will live with me forever.
“When I first spoke to Kevin I made a promise that I would bring silverware back to the club and it meant so much to me to be able to do so.
“Since Kevin has taken over at the club, the club has had a complete overhaul and I think it’s evident to see that the club is going places.
“I’m proud I was able to play a small part as I believe the club will continue to grow from strength to strength.
“I’m gutted that I felt I was put in a position where I had to resign from the football club.
“I felt that my job wasn’t done and I strongly felt that we would go on to achieve our objectives set out at the beginning of the season, me and Kevin spoke about taking the club on a journey and I felt that we were only just getting started, so I’m disappointed that I won’t be on the journey that the club are about to embark on.
“I think that we have both been good for each other and that’s how I hope my tenure will be remembered.
“I feel that the club both on and off the pitch are in a better position than when I arrived and that is something I have always set out to achieve at any club I have been at.
“I would like to thank everyone at the club that has played their part In the past two years, to all the players that played under me however big or small you all played a part In the success of the club over the last two years.
“Last but not least the Chatham Town supporters, you have stuck by the club over decades and as the club is growing new fans are joining. We have had experiences and shared stories that will never be forgotten.
“I wish everybody at the club nothing but success for the future, the club is on the rise and I firmly believe that rate of rise will only continue. I will enjoy watching from afar.
“Finally, I am more than anything a fan of Non-league football, anyone that is involved in it makes a lot of sacrifices week in week out and we can’t explain why we do it, but when it’s in your blood it’s I your blood. I hope not to be out of the game to long, but it will certainly be a good chance to recharge the batteries.”
Chatham Town host third-from-bottom side Fisher at Maidstone Road on Saturday.
The Fish appointed Ajay Ashanike as manager yesterday after Allan Fenn stepped down after losing eight of his 11 games in charge of the club.
Visit Chatham Town’s website: www.chathamtownfc.com