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⚽ Cornwall Football: Former Saltash chief Lewis explains reason for Ashes exit
We speak to former Saltash United boss Danny Lewis, who stepped down from his role as first-team manager on Wednesday after 12 months in charge...
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🚪 Former Saltash chief Lewis explains reason for Ashes exit
By Matt Friday
Former Saltash United manager Danny Lewis says differing expectations between himself and the club was the reason for his departure from Waterways Stadium earlier this week.
The end of Lewis’ 12-month reign in charge of the east Cornwall outfit was announced by the Ashes on Wednesday, two weeks after the team missed out on promotion to the Southern League.
Their inter-step play-off final defeat at Bristol Manor Farm on April 29 proved to be Ashes legend Lewis’ final game in charge, with the former chief feeling that the club’s ambitions for next season did not match his own.
“First thing’s first, I want to thank the club for the appointment in the first place,” Lewis told Cornwall Sports Media. “I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s been a massive challenge and it’s good to challenge myself and my players.
“I’ve loved it and I would love to stay involved in management, but ultimately, in the current economic climate the club wants to make sure it is financially OK first and foremost.
“That’s fine, I get that, but we’ve just come in the top two of the league and amassed 84 points. The expectation and the desires that I’ve got and my players have got isn’t currently in line with what the club want.
“I completely understand if the club has to maintain its existence and that it carries on and if, financially, it is struggling then I get all that, but what the communication [from the club] was for what the expectation was and what financial help I had for this season wasn’t in keeping to what it was for last season and what I would probably feel I could warrant offering my players.”
He added: “I’m absolutely gutted. Saltash is my club. I started there in 2005 and I’ve left a few times but I’ve always come home. As much as I understand, I am upset as I did think that after last season I did want us to kick on and all the players were all keen to stay. I did feel as if we were on to something here.
“Ultimately the club has to ensure it is OK financially, but as part of that it just means how it's maybe not in a position to match my aims and aspirations for next season.”
Saltash United politely declined Cornwall Sports Media’s request for comment on Lewis’ departure.
In a public statement announcing Lewis’ exit, the Ashes said: “Needless to say, his record speaks for itself, and we would like to thank Danny for his incredible loyalty to the football club over the years, and we wish him all the best for his plans for the future.
“He remains an Ashes legend and has departed with the very best wishes from the committee.”
Cornwall Sports Media understands that former Millbrook chief Mackenzie Brown is set to be confirmed as Lewis' replacement, with an announcement expected within the next few days.
Brown led the Jenkins Park outfit to two promotions in his seven years in charge before taking the side to within a penalty shootout of a maiden Cornwall Senior Cup triumph last month, ultimately losing to Helston Athletic on spot-kicks.
Ashes ‘would have ended up achieving something special’
Lewis took over as player-joint manager at Waterways Stadium in the summer of 2022 alongside former Truro City and Plymouth Parkway midfielder Shane Krac. The pair replaced former chief Dane Bunney, who had just led the Ashes to a fourth-place finish in their first season back in the Western League with Lewis as his assistant.
The duo got off to a promising start until Krac's sudden departure in December, which came following a meeting between committee members and the first team management to discuss plans should the club achieve promotion to the Southern League.
Lewis, who made 386 appearances for the Ashes as a player, took sole charge of the side for the rest of the campaign as the Ashes pushed eventual champions Mousehole all the way to the final day of the season, when the Seagulls eventually secured a maiden Western League triumph.
Saltash then faced a winner-takes-all play-off at Southern League Division One South West outfit Bristol Manor Farm, with the Farm running out 2-0 winners to retain their Southern League status and condemn the Ashes to another season at Step 5.
It all made for a whirlwind 12 months at the helm, but Lewis remains proud of what he and his team achieved.
“I think as you get older you look to reflect on yourself a lot and who you are as a person,” Lewis said. “Obviously up until Christmas [we were] at the top of the league and flying, then Shane [Krac], who is a friend of mine, left.
“Perhaps that was the warning of things to come later, but I’m really, really proud of myself and of our management team and of our players that we all stuck around and turned into a stronger unit.
“I’ve learned an awful lot in terms of myself and in terms of my teammates and all the lads and all of our squad in general who have all stuck with me. I respect them massively.”
He added: “I’m just gutted there's a lot of players in there who have played for Saltash for a long time who are quality players who haven't achieved the trophies which they should have.
“What I would have loved was for us to have achieved something from last season — for them, really. I would have loved to have carried on for those players as I did feel as if we were on to something and it was maybe the start of something and that we would have ended up achieving something special.”
Lewis refused to be drawn on rumours linking him with a move to Saltash’s Western League Premier Division colleagues Buckland Athletic, with Cornwall Sports Media sources suggesting that the Devon outfit are interested in making him a part of Dan Hart’s management team.
Lewis counts Buckland among his former clubs, having played at Homers Heath in the early-2010s, but is choosing to take time to consider his next move in management.
“It’s my old club, it’s a club I respect massively,” he said. “I need to go away and speak to my wife and speak to my family. I’m a teacher and I've got two kids who are into football and my life’s manic.
“I just need to go away and make sure that whatever I do next is right for them as well as me, but that is definitely a club which matches my aspirations, but again it just has to be right.”
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