Charlie Rowley believes it is the right time to step down as Forres Mechanics manager but admits he will do so with “a heavy heart”.
Rowley is the Highland League’s longest-serving manager having taken charge of the Can-Cans in the summer of 2010.
He led the Mosset Park club to North of Scotland Cup success in September 2010 but the highlight of his time in charge came in 2012 when he guided Forres to the Highland League title for only the second time in the club’s history.
Rowley’s imminent departure was confirmed after his side’s 5-2 win at Huntly on Saturday. He will be in the dugout for the final time at Mosset Park in his side’s Highland League Cup tie against Turriff this Saturday.
The Forres boss told his players about his decision to step down before they took to the field against Huntly.
Rowley was under contract at Forres until 2023 but feels the club will benefit from a change of management.
He said: “It was the most difficult team talk I’ve ever had.
“It wasn’t the time or the place to go into too much detail but it was hugely difficult as you can imagine.
“There was a combination of reasons behind the decision.
“It was nothing negative on the club but I feel this is best for the club in the long term.
“It can be hard to encourage players to come in if they know the manager is leaving in a year’s time.
“That was one of the biggest reasons why I thought the club should look at getting a replacement in with a view to getting better players in to be competitive again at the top end of the league.
“There have been lots of hugely positive memories but obviously winning the league title with a club like Forres that is not renowned for winning the title was very special.
“It was only the second time in the club’s history which shows how difficult it is to win the league.”
Forres had to come from behind against Huntly with Michael Dangana breaking the deadlock after 12 minutes before the visitors scored four times before the interval through Owen Paterson (2), Thomas Brady and Paul Brindle.
Cameron Heslop reduced the deficit before Brindle added Forres’ fifth with Huntly ending the game with 10 men after Michael Clark saw red in stoppage time.
Rowley said: “They went out and gave us the performance we asked for.
“I think it was a thoroughly deserved win. The scoreline maybe flattered us as Huntly hit the woodwork three times in the second half.
“It could have been a bit closer but there was a 20-25 minute spell in the first half where we were really good and put the game to bed.”
Rowley admitted he had thought long and hard about stepping down.
He said: “It has been something I have been thinking about for a couple months.
“I was slightly hesitant about signing a new contract in the close season but the board made their intentions clear that it was about me trying to stabilise things with a view to pushing on further down the line.
“Hindsight is a great thing but that might have been a better opportunity to start afresh.
“I have really enjoyed this season, although the results haven’t been as good as we would have liked.
“The football side has had nothing to do with my decision.”
Forres released a statement thanking Rowley for his lengthy service to the club, adding that the Can-Cans boss has been invited to join the board of directors.
Rowley said: “That is something I will consider.
“I won’t be taking up their offer just at this minute as I feel a clean break to reassess things and recharge the batteries is needed.
“Then maybe in a month, a year, whenever, there is no reason why I can’t go back and try it if I feel I can commit and contribute to the board.
“I would certainly have no hesitation in doing that.
“For now on a Saturday, I will enjoy going to watch football on a neutral basis and I’ll maybe enjoy going to watch Aberdeen.
“There are various things we haven’t been able to do as a family because of the Saturday commitments.”
Sorry to see Charlie Rowley stepping down as Cans manager.
If the league title wasn't enough, two decades as a player, coach and manager also = legend status! Brilliant with officials, players and supporters alike. Thanks @charlieirene1.Your family, Cans family always 👏👏
— Forres Mechanics Supporters (@themightycans) November 6, 2021
Before Rowley steps down, he is determined to sign off on a positive note by guiding Forres to the second round of the Highland League Cup with a win against Turriff.
He added: “The club agreed I should sign off with a home game and it has just worked out it is the Turriff game in the cup.
“If we play like we did against Huntly then there is no question we should be looking to progress.
“We scored a last minute equaliser to get a draw when we played them in the league so we realise it will be a tough test.
“The intention is to sign off with a win and progress to the next round of the cup.”