Simon Haworth had arrived at a crossroads in his tenure as Clitheroe boss, claiming his ambition had out-grown the club’s, and that was the defining factor in his departure from Shawbridge.
The outgoing Blues boss held talks with chair Anne Barker and the board in the aftermath of Clitheroe’s defeat to Chorley in the LFA Challenge Trophy final at the Macron Stadium.
And while the parting of ways was far from acrimonious, the Welshman, a former Wigan Athletic striker, felt he had no option but to step down and look for a new challenge.
“I had a chat with the board about several things,” he said. “I wanted things to change, but the club was comfortable with where it is.
“It just seemed that my ambition had out-grown theirs. I think the town and the fans deserve a team that will have a right go at this league, because it will be a bit more of a level playing field next season with the big boys going.
“I can’t get my career moving by finishing mid-table every season. We looked at what we had done right and wrong over the last two years, and I just felt that teams were passing us by.
“Clubs were more resourceful, better prepared, strengthening facilities and the structure of their clubs. I wanted a bit more investment that would attract players.
“We had a conversation, and I wanted to go one way and they wanted to stay where they are. I have the ambition and hunger to keep pushing on.
“Everyone knows where they are at now. I’m looking for a new challenge and the club has sought a replacement.
“I just felt that the club wasn’t really moving and I need a club with a bit more ambition that wants to kick on. They are set in their ways slightly at Clitheroe and happy to be where they are.”
In his first season, Haworth guided Clitheroe to seventh in the Evo-Stik First Division North, narrowly missing out on a play-off place.
As well as reaching the semi-final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy, the club also scooped the Fair Play gong.
A play-off push followed this term, though recent results tailored a mid-table finish, and they had National League North side Chorley against the ropes in the LFA Final.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I’m very grateful to Anne and the board for the opportunity.
“We’ve had two good finishes in the league, just missing out on the play-offs in my first season, we’ve been involved in two cup semi-finals and a final.
“The Fair Play award that we received last season is another outstanding achievement, and a reflection on how I manage my teams. It was a great accolade for the club. It’s been a complete and utter success.
“We’ve beaten teams like Workington and AFC Fylde and we’ve had some phenomenal performances and runs in that time. We’ve produced some very good young players as well.”
“I think it’s been a real success. I would say that the club is in a much healthier position now than what it was two years ago.
“All the boxes have been ticked. Unfortunately, Clitheroe weren’t prepared to push the boundaries and I had to make a brave decision.”
Haworth doesn’t yet have any plans in place for his next step on the managerial ladder but he believes that this experience, on top of his work with Shrewsbury Town, will land him another gig at a similar level sooner rather than later.
Haworth, who signed off with a 2-2 draw against Skelmersdale United thanks to Ross Dent’s double, said: “I’ve not spoken to anybody yet. I’ve not got anything lined up but I’ve been thinking about things and now we’ve come to a crossroads.
“I want to push on with a club and be more competitive consistently rather than being up against it and trying to spin plates all the time. There hasn’t been any kind of fall out, it’s all been amicable.
“With two years experience at this level I now want to try and take a team out of this division. I’ll be on the look out for something so hopefully an opportunity will become available soon.
“I would back myself to go out there and be successful. I needed the experience and I’ve got that now.
“I know this level and the one above inside out so I can definitely do a job higher up. I might need to take another small step, take another job at this step and do a decent job there.
“I’m in a position now where I can go and be a real asset to another club. I can bring a lot to the table. Unfortunately that’s not Clitheroe Football Club’s priority.
“I’m just hoping that people have taken note of the job that I’ve done over the last two years. I hope I get that phone call because of what I’ve achieved.”