JAMIE HOWELL shocked the Non-League football world by quitting Bognor Regis following over two decades at the club hours after winning promotion, but says risks have to be taken if he wants to manage at the highest level.
Howell is Eastbourne Borough’s new manager in a move which was arranged before the club beat Dulwich Hamlet on Bank Holiday Monday.
But the Rocks’ former player, coach, assistant and manager denied his switch across Sussex to another National League South club is a sideward step.
He will be a full-time manager by the start of the new season and Howell says geography played a big part in one of the toughest decisions of his life.
The 40-year-old, who played 426 times over ten years in Bognor’s midfield, said: “I wouldn’t have done it if I wasn’t totally sure it was the right time for me and the right thing to do.
“I’ve been at Bognor for 20 years. Every season I have loved in my various roles and do you know what, I was so proud to say goodbye by taking the team back to the Conference South.
“I couldn’t have ended it any other way. For me that was so important. I think the fans in general understand why I have decided to leave, to say I’ve left with a heavy heart doesn’t even come close. That club has been my life for a very, very long time.
“But I’m ambitious. What people need to realise is that the opportunity to manage a full-time football club in our area very rarely comes up. That for me is the natural next step. I want to progress and I need to take myself to the next level. Eastbourne can offer that and I am so excited about the challenge.”
Bognor have never been one of the Ryman Premier’s big spenders but in the last few years his record of keeping the club in the top five of the league has earned him high praise.
“I think we have achieved, and to say goodbye with promotion in front of nearly 3,500 supporters will live with me forever,” he said.
Howell’s trusty number two Darin Killpartrick will not be following him to Priory Lane and the new Sports boss added: “Dabber will be staying and whoever the new manager is will have a real head start because he’s first class and knows that club inside out. There’s a great base there for whoever gets the job.”