Steve Cunningham steps down as Colne FC boss after six years in charge

Steve Cunningham has resigned as manager of Colne Football Club after six years in charge at Holt House.

Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 1:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 1:04 pm
Steve Cunningham

The 40-year-old, who had previously played for the club under the late Nigel Coates, has vowed to spend more time with his family after stepping down from his role as boss.

The father-of-two, who admittedly eats, sleeps and breathes football, has put his heart and soul into the Reds since his appointment, but he feels the time has come to take a well-earned break from the sport.

Cunningham, and his wife Caroline, have two children, Zak and Maizie. “It is with sadness and a heavy heart that, having spoken to my family at length, I have decided that the time is right for me to step down as manager of Colne Football Club,” he said in his statement.

“It has not been an easy decision. My love affair with the club started 17 years ago when I signed on as a player.

“For the past six years I have been the very proud manager, succeeding my gaffer, the late Nigel Coates. It has been a love affair that consumed me and during which, in many ways, my family was second to.

“Recent events have given me time to reflect and realise the heavy price that my family have paid for my dedication to Colne FC and with little or no reward for them.

“I have been spending invaluable time with my two beautiful kids and wife and I’ve realised that, for now at least, I need to put them first, though I am not saying I will not manage a football team again.”

Cunningham led Colne to unprecedented success on the pitch during his time in charge at the Sovereign Play Stadium.

Promotion as champions from the North West Counties Premier Division was followed by a couple of Northern Premier League Division One play-off appearances.

And just this season the Reds registered record-breaking runs in both the Emirates FA Cup and the Buildbase FA Trophy, reaching the fourth qualifying round and third qualifying round respectively.

Cunningham added: “The last six years managing Colne FC have seen relationships with people develop beyond friendship and a common purpose to family ties.

“When I was interviewed for the job, alongside Ted Cockett, who became my assistant, I believed 100% that I would get the job because I didn’t think anyone else would match my overwhelming passion for the club and the vision I had for it.

“As I laid out in my interview I had a bucket list of things I wanted to achieve: win the league, establish a fan base of 250-plus, develop young footballers and give them a platform to perform, integrate the junior club and become one club, sell a player to a professional club, win player, club and management awards, build a new stadium.

“All with the aim of becoming the best, most prominent non-league club in the area. With the exception of the new stadium, it feels like job done. The club is in a better place than when I became manager and I am very proud of my involvement in that.

“This is a very sad day for me. Seventeen years ago a love affair started and I leave with a very heavy heart. I wish the club every success in the future.”

Colne were in touching distance of the top flight in 2016/17 when beaten by Farsley Celtic in the play-off semi-finals having finished fifth in the league.

They missed the cut on goal difference to Tadcaster Albion the following term and then suffered late heartache in extra-time of their play-off tie against Leek Town last season.

A statement from chairman Ryan Haigh read: “Steve was not just my manager, he is also my friend. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone connected with the club.

“The work rate and time he committed to the club will be hard to replace.

“He was probably one of the longest serving managers across this level of the football pyramid and his family were big part of the football club as spectators, colleagues and friends.

“Their personalities and enthusiasm for the club has always remained unwavered and hopefully it won’t be long before we see each other again.

“I would like to place on record my sincere gratitude to Steve for all of his hard work, commitment, determination and inarguable success as manager of this great football club and I wish him well in the future.

“During his time in charge we have achieved so much and so many of his greatest moments as manager will live long in the memory of all Colne fans fortunate to have seen and enjoyed them. Steve’s achievements ensure that he is forever embedded in the history of Colne F.C.”