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‘I don’t have trust in the people at the top level of the club’: Craig Stewart lifts the lid on his Deveronvale resignation

Stewart quit the Banffers on Saturday having been manager since January 2021.

Craig Stewart has criticised Deveronvale following his resignation as manager.
Craig Stewart has criticised Deveronvale following his resignation as manager.

Craig Stewart revealed he resigned as Deveronvale manager because of a lack of faith in the club’s board.

The Banffers’ boss stepped down following Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Strathspey Thistle at Princess Royal Park.

Former Vale player Stewart was appointed as manager in January 2021, having returned to the club as a coach in October 2015 under previous boss Steve Dolan.

Stewart says he was planning to resign regardless of the result at the weekend and has lifted the lid on his unhappiness at the club’s hierarchy.

But he stressed his remarks were not aimed at chairman Jim Mair.

Stewart said: “This has been building up over a period of time, it’s not because of Saturday’s result.

“Don’t get me wrong, Saturday’s result wasn’t good enough by a long stretch.

“This has been building up for several months, there are people involved at the club who I don’t get what their purpose of being there is.

Craig Stewart has left Deveronvale.

“This season the club has had one fundraiser, which was set up by a sponsor.

“Ultimately if you don’t do any fundraising you might do enough to scrape by, but you’re not doing anything to improve it.

“I’m not speaking about the whole board, but among some of them there is no football experience and there’s no knowledge or experience of the Highland League and what it takes to run a club.

“It’s going to be a massive learning curve for them I think. If they don’t listen to people then the club might be in trouble.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t have any trust in the people who are at the top level of the club and that’s why I’ve resigned.

Result didn’t lead to resignation

“Even if we’d won on Saturday it was always in my mind that I was done anyway.

“I had thought about continuing until the end of the season, but it’s important for the club to get someone in sooner rather than later.

“If I’d waited until the end of the season the club would be on the back foot in terms of preparing for next season so I decided I should go.

“I would have liked to finish with a win, but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m a local lad and a Vale supporter, I don’t want the club to fail.

“I want the club to be run properly and be in a stable position to move up the table.

“Unfortunately I think there have been too many people burying their head and thinking ‘the Vale will be OK.’

“It doesn’t work like that, if people don’t work at it then the club won’t be OK.”

Good relationship with chief

On his relationship with chairman Mair, Stewart added: “I’ve had a very good relationship with Jim and I’m not pointing the finger at him.

“What I like about Jim is that he was always honest in any conversations we had. With certain people I couldn’t say the same.

“Jim has probably kept the club alive, a lot of people don’t see how much he has put in when it comes to dealing with things and keeping things going. I wish him all the best.

“I’d also like to thank the unsung heroes at the club like the volunteers that run the hospitality and do the gate and things like that.

“These folk are worth their weight in gold, they do a great job and without people like them you don’t have a club.

“I’d also like to thank the supporters for their backing, they’ve been very patient and I understand their frustrations.”

On pitch challenges

Deveronvale are sitting 16th in the Breedon Highland League having finished 17th last term and 14th in the 2021-22 campaign.

During his tenure Stewart has seen important players like Ross Aitken, Grant Noble, Robbie Allan, Matthew Wallace, Horace Ormsby and Robert Scott leave.

This season he has also been without talismanic striker Dane Ballard due to injury.

But Stewart has introduced young players like Jay Goldie, Jaydan Bradford, Jack Mitchell, Olek Dlugosz and Ryan Park to Deveronvale’s squad and that is something he takes pride in.

The 47-year-old said: “It’s been tough but also quite rewarding. We’ve been able to give young players experience they wouldn’t have got elsewhere and they’ll be better for it.

“I’ll watch their futures with interest, in terms of where we are in the table it’s doesn’t look good just now.

Craig Stewart, left, with Deveronvale youngster Jack Mitchell.

“But we developed a group of youngsters, people know that and the benefit of that will be seen in the future.

“On our day we could compete with any team, but we were also capable of poor performances and that’s just the inconsistency you get with a young squad.

“I’m proud of the effort the players gave me and they’re at no fault for my resignation.

“The disappointment for me has been that we weren’t able to bring in the players to help the boys progress.

“The players are progressing, but they would have progressed quicker with two or three more experienced players to help them along.

“But with either not having the money to sign a player or because of the wage structure we’ve got we couldn’t get that.

“We’re miles off it when it comes to competing with other clubs and that makes it really difficult.”

Davidson exit was disappointment

Stewart also revealed that the departure of assistant manager Richard Davidson was a factor in his decision to quit.

Deveronvale and Davidson parted company following a “football incident” during their game against Nairn County on February 17.

He said: “I wanted Richard to stay, there’s no question about that.

“He took ownership of what happened, the way it was handled and the process they wanted to go through disappointed me.

“I haven’t really recovered from that, Richard was a very good assistant manager for me and his departure left a hole.

“My view was that the process should have been different and the outcome should have been different.”

Deveronvale were given the opportunity to respond to Stewart’s remarks, but declined to comment.

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