Whitey: My hunger's still there but it is time to go
Whitey Anderson has announced the he is to step down as manager of Ballinamallard United - even though his team might have one more match to play.
Anderson has decided to call it quits after 20 years at Ferney Park, the last 10 of them in charge of the first team, after the club failed in a second attempt to talk him into staying in the job.
He had intended to resign last summer, only to be talked round by chairman Jeff Aiken, but this time Anderson's mind was made up.
"This has been a decision that was made some considerable time ago and although we met and discussed the possibility of me remaining as manager my mind was made up," said Anderson.
The Mallards beat Institute 2-1 in a promotion/relegation play-off battle last Friday night, but the second and deciding meeting was postponed on Tuesday night while the Irish FA carry out an investigation over Carrick Rangers' manager Gary Haveron, who served a suspension in the wrong match.
If the IFA don't overturn Carrick's 3-1 win over Dungannon Swifts, the game in which Haveron sat on the bench when he should have been serving a ban, Anderson will take charge one more time in the second leg of the play-off.
If Carrick are put down then Anderson will walk away knowing that the amazing story of Ballinamallard's rise from the Fermanagh and Western League to the Danske Bank Premiership will continue with a fifth successive season in the top flight - achieving a fifth-placed finish in their debut campaign and beating then champions Linfield twice at Windsor Park.
"It has been an incredible journey for the club over the last 40 years and I have had the pleasure of being first team manager for the last 10 seasons," said Anderson, whose first trophy with the club was a league title success with an under-13 team.
"I have coached and managed every age group at the club and at all levels locally and throughout the country in the last 24 years.
"I am proud of what we all achieved as a club during that time and especially in the latter years which has seen Premier League football brought to not only this club, but to the county for the first time ever.
"I believe it is the right time for not only Ballinamallard United FC and myself, but in all honesty my family to arrive at this decision. In one respect there still from within lays a hunger to go again, but on a personal level I have hit a brick wall, the batteries are low and it's a preseason too far."
Ballinamallard have pledged to appoint a high-quality successor to replace Anderson.
He will, however, be a hard act to follow having been largely responsible for making Ballinamallard United into the club that it is today.
"Our success, not only in reaching the Premiership, but in developing a strong human and physical infrastructure at the club, has much to do with Whitey`s dynamism and effort," said chairman Aiken.
"Whitey will be forever remembered at this club as the man who brought senior football to County Fermanagh for the first time in 125 years of the Irish League.
"He will be difficult to replace, but we have begun the process of finding a successor and are confident that the Head Coach at Ballinamallard will be an attractive post for an ambitious manager, with the appropriate qualification."
- Newry City suffered a bitter sweet night as they missed out on a treble.
While they lost 4-1 to Valley Rangers in the final of the Marshall Cup, the club's promotion to the new Premier Intermediate League - the third tier of Irish League football - was confirmed.