‘It was a complete shock’ – admits Watson after being axed by Seasiders
- Credit: Photo:Stan Baston
Shock was the over-riding feeling that Ian Watson experienced, when he was relieved of his managerial duties at Felixstowe & Walton United last week.
Watson had helped to bring terrific success to the Seasiders, over the last four years, both as an assistant manager, joint manager and then sole boss at Dellwood Avenue.
It had been a difficult start to this season, with just two wins from their first six starts in Isthmian League North, but there certainly seemed no reason to panic, especially as Watson had guided the Seasiders to a very respectable 11th-placed finish in their first season at Step Four level last term, following promotion from the Eastern Counties League.
Felixstowe born-and-bred, 50-year-old Watson was preparing his team for the match at Hullbridge Sports on Saturday, when he was told of his fate during the weekly training session last Thursday evening.
"It was a complete shock, when I was told, to be honest with you" revealed Watson.
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"I was approached during the training session last Thursday evening, not before it or after it.
"I haven't really had a chance to speak to the players either, because the announcement was quickly made on the club's social media.
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"So all-in-all it's been a very rough last few days, and I'm still feeling very raw about the whole thing.
"Football has always been a big part of my life, but I don't think there's as much loyalty in the game now, certainly.
"It's well known that there are players who will go elsewhere for another £5, but managers are the most loyal in the business.
"I first started playing men's football at the age of 15, and have been involved in the game ever since, every season.
"So it felt weird not having to go to a game last weekend. Literally for the first time in 35 years, I woke up on Saturday with no football club, and just a decision of who to go and watch instead.
"As it happened, I watched the Brighton v Tottenham game on the TV and, because I have been suffering from man 'flu for a few days, I decided to take a break, not go to a game and take the dogs for a walk instead, before watching the Gillette Soccer Saturday Show," added Watson.
It is perhaps not surprising that, after 35 years in the game, Watson is planning a short break from football before making his return.
"I will definitely take a break for a little period of time," confirmed Watson.
"I've had chats with several people on the phone. It's plain to see that there's more than meets the eye, I have never walked away from anything in football, on or off the field, and I never will.
"I remain very passionate about football. Felixstowe & Walton is my home town club, and it will always be very special to me.
"I was brought up in the town. Felixstowe is where I was born and bred, I've lived here all my life, and I played here when the two clubs were amalgamated (in 2000, when Walton United and Felixstowe Port & Town merged).
"I was an assistant to Kevin O'Donnell for a couple of years, and was then joint manager with Kevin when we won promotion to Step Four.
"I've been the manager (outright) since Kevin left last December, bringing in Danny (Bloomfield) as my assistant.
"I've worked with some good people, and I feel an immense sense of pride that I helped to get promotion for this club, with Kev, over what was a three-year plan, although initially it was supposed to be over five years.
"The club has made great progress, both on and off the pitch.
"We had an historical FA Cup run as well (reached the third qualifying round in 2016-17), and I got to lead out the team at Portman Road," added Watson, with reference to last season's Suffolk Premier Cup Final against Leiston.