EMOTIONAL Steve Coward announced that he is stepping down as manager of Chickerell United.

The Chickens’ chief will end his successful tenure at the Stalls at the end of the current season.

Coward guided Chickerell to the Dorset Senior League title last season and also lifted the Dorset Senior Trophy in 2015.

He will have just three more games in the hot-seat before Shaun Murphy, who has been working alongside Coward since Christmas, will take over as manager next term.

Coward told Echosport: “I would like to announce that I am finishing this year.

“I made the decision to do something different. I am going to help do the Dorset League representative side.”

He added: “I think it’s time for someone who is a bit keener at the club.

“I felt this year was just starting to eat away at me and it’s not fair on the club if I am not 100 per cent committed.

“My heart is at the club, it always has been and always will be really.

“I have thanked them for everything they have done. When I took the club on I was at rock-bottom in my life.

“When things are like that you need to be around people and it was the perfect opportunity to get myself back out and deal with things.”

He added: “I played for the club when I was 16 years old, it’s going to be hard to walk away and not have my Saturdays for football.

“I think I am going to miss it personally. I have been very lucky to be at a club where there is a good core of players.

“But we have someone who is interested who has been with me since Christmas, Shaun Murphy is going to take it on next year. I didn’t want to just walk away at the end of the season, meaning they didn’t have anyone in place.

“Everything they have done for me is a massive help, not just in football, but in life in general.”

Coward also wished to thank all the players who have played under him, as well as Adge Elliot, Graham Welch and Chris Beals for their help on match days.