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Ollie Cherrett and Wayne Smith step down after Christchurch FC opted not to apply for promotion

OLLIE Cherrett and Wayne Smith have resigned as co-managers of Christchurch FC after the club decided against applying for promotion.

Cherret, who spent more than five years at the club, oversaw a remarkable transformation at the club, leading them to the Sydenhams Wessex Division One title and back into the Premier division.

Joined at the club by Smith two-and-a-half years ago, the highlight of their tenure was the impressive FA Cup run, the best in the club’s history, which culminated in the club’s first-ever televised match shown on the BBC against Dulwich Hamlet FC.

Ollie Cherrett and Wayne Smith on the touchline during Christchurch's last competitive match (photo: @JustinParryPho1)
Ollie Cherrett and Wayne Smith on the touchline during Christchurch's last competitive match (photo: @JustinParryPho1)

The FA invited Christchurch to apply for promotion to the Southern League as the Sydenhams Wessex Premier side with the highest points per game ratio over the last two years.

The unusual promotion situation came as The FA began its planned restructuring of the National League System.

The National League System comprises the six levels of English football immediately below the English Football League level.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, Cherrett said: “After discussions with the club this afternoon (on Tuesday) and the decision not to apply for upward movement, I have taken the tough decision to resign as manager of Christchurch FC.

“I would like to thank the club for the proud opportunity to manage Christchurch for five and a half years which has seen some great memories, from winning Division One, the FA Vase journeys and not forgetting the history-making FA Cup run this season.

“I would like to thank all the backroom people, the players and the management team that have supported me over the years and thanks to Hurn Bridge Sports Club and our supporters.

“I wish the club all the best for the future and look forward to the next chapter.”

Just over an hour later, Smith released the following statement: “Following the earlier announcement that the club will not be taking the upward movement to Step Four, I have made the difficult decision, alongside Ollie, to resign as manager of Christchurch FC.

“I have had a great two-and-a-half years at the club, making so many memories with special people.

“We have achieved so much, to obtain the opportunity for promotion along with great FA Vase and FA Cup runs that will live long in my memory.

“The players, backroom staff, supporters and followers have all been fantastic, and I would like to thank them for all their support.

“I leave with a heavy heart but would like to wish Christchurch all the best for the future, and I am looking forward to what the future may hold.”

The next Sydenhams Wessex League side able to apply for promotion is Lymington Town, and manager Dave Lewis confirmed the club would be doing so.

Lymington were in spectacular form when the league season was curtailed, winning 11 out of 12 league matches while beating league leaders Hamworthy, who had two games in hand, 1-0 at home.

Dave said: “We will be applying for promotion, and as an ambitious, progressive club, we have registered our intent with the league to go up.

“We’ve been gearing up for promotion behind the scenes for a while now. Although we would have loved to have a whole campaign and gone up as winners, league promotion has been the goal ever since I joined the club five and half years ago. It’s brilliant news.

“We’ve had six or seven lads in a core group for my entire period at the club, and everyone in the team has signed on for next year. We will add two or three to the squad, the best local talent to promote from within our area, to maintain the stability of our club.

“With the squad we’ve got, I fully expect us to be competitive at the top of the league.”

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