By Liam Moakes 17/04 Updated: 24/04 19:22
STUDLEY LEISURE manager Matt Jackson has expressed his pride at the efforts of the club having stepped down as manager following their final match of the BRT Redditch & South Warwickshire Combination League Division One season on Sunday.
Jackson has been boss for four seasons since the club was founded in 2008 but Sunday's 4-1 home victory over The Corks was his last as manager as he this week stood down due to his partner expecting their first child in May.
The club began life in the league in the old Division Four but some superb progress over recent seasons now sees the team occupy a mid-table position in Division One - an effort Jackson believes everyone at the club should be proud of.
Jackson said: "I step down as manager after leading the club from Division Four to Division One in four successful seasons, picking up some silverware along the way.
"I will be continue to be involved with the club in my new role as chairman and I have great faith in the club's new manager Andy Thurstance, who I have known for a long time and I'm confident can guide the club to further progress over the coming seasons."
A familiar face who will still be on the sidelines with Studley Leisure though is Adam Thornton - aka Toffee - who has been with Jackson since day one.
The pair were good friends at high school and played football together for the school and various recreational teams.
Jackson said of Toffee's commitment to the cause: "Toffee has been with me since day one and never missed a game in four years.
"He has been a massive help over the years with the running of the club and played in almost every position on the field for the club for the good of cause.
"Every home game without fail he is there an hour before the rest of us to put up the nets and mark out the pitch and Toffee will be staying on with the club to help Andy just like he helped me."
It has been an excellent effort by Studley Leisure in recent times, indicated by Jackson who remembers the difficult periods at first.
"Our first season started badly as we struggled to get to grips with the demands of Sunday football," he added.
"During the course of that season though, we gradually improved the playing squad and in turn improved results and we ended our inaugural season in a comfortable mid-table position."
With some new faces on board, the club found themselves competing for the Division Four title in a two-horse race with Winyates Villa in their second season.
The Winyates side got the better of Studley Leisure in the two league meetings and pipped them to the title, leaving Leisure as runners-up, although they had the chance to earn silverware that season as they faced Villa in the final of the Ken Parfitt Cup.
The game started badly for Studley who found themselves 2-0 down within 20 minutes, but they were determined not to fall to their rivals for a third time and a hat-trick from the club's record goalscorer Mark Sullivan turned the game on its head as they won 3-2 and lifted the trophy.
This capped a great season and the club were promoted to Division Three as runners-up as well as bagging a cup.
On a roll, Studley Leisure began their third season with more new additions and the players defied the odds as they won their first five games and never looked back.
They went on to to reach the Hunt Crane Cup final and then had an anxious wait to find out their title fate after finishing their games ahead of their rivals.
These other sides could not overturn Studley's lead though and they were crowned Division Three champions, which was a fine achievement for a newly-promoted side.
Their achievements and progress over the previous two seasons prompted the league to award Studley a double promotion and their fourth season saw them compete in the notoriously difficult Division One.
Jackson continued: "This was obviously a huge step for the club and its players and we found it difficult to adapt to the higher level.
"We found ourselves rock bottom by as late in the season as mid-March and, having only achieved two wins from the first 15 games, the club was staring relegation in the face.
"The players, however, remained determined to beat the drop and, with the addition of some new faces and the return of highly-rated centre back Adam McLaughlin, the club rallied to win four and draw one of the last five games games to lift the team up four league places to safety.
"It was a remarkable turnaround and the squad showed great character in battling their way to safety."
The club is looking for new sponsorship and any interested parties can get in touch with Andy Thurstance or Matt Jackson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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