Buckingham: Club is healthier without me
PETE BUCKINGHAM fell on his sword to give Barnstaple Town a "fighting chance" of survival as a Toolstation Western League club.
That was his claim this week after quitting just 60 days into his second spell as manager and before a match had been played.
He said the "writing was on the wall" and it was better he went now than when the season was under way.
Buckingham argued that when he took the job in May he did not realise Barnstaple's financial situation was so dire and that he had concluded the club needed a local manager in charge of a local team.
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"I knew things were difficult at Barnstaple but I didn't comprehend how difficult they really were," said Buckingham, who was arguably the only person with an interest in North Devon football to be unaware of their plight.
"It's a club in crisis. It's desperate.Unless people from Barnstaple get behind them now, they will go the same way as Torrington and play local football. There are good people at the club but they need help."
Buckingham, though, felt he could not offer that help.
"I took one look at what was going on and felt it was in the best interests of the club to have a local manager and a local team," he said.
"I had to make a decision now to give them a fighting chance.
"If I had walked away in September or October, the club might not have been in a position to fulfil its fixtures.
"The writing was on the wall and it was going to be extremely difficult for me to stay. At least now there is a chance to salvage something."
Dave Griffiths, who it emerged this week had been joint manager with Buckingham, has been given that salvage job, assisted by Terry Chapple.
Buckingham believes they will have a better chance of attracting North Devon-based players to the club.
He had signed nine new players, eight from outside the area, and feared he would not be able to keep them because the club was paying only negligible travelling expenses.
He also argued they would become disillusioned by the lack of interest from local players.
"In the two training sessions I took, Jordan Charran was the only local player who turned up who would have had a future in the first team," said Buckingham.
"Football needs a reality check, not just Barnstaple Town.
"Good players need to play for the town they live in and managers need to be local."
Buckingham will now be in that position as manager at Elmore, whose ground is within walking distance of his home.
Buckingham insisted the job offer from the Western League first division club was not behind his decision to quit Barnstaple, where he had an initial spell in charge from 2006 to 2008.
"I had Elmore knocking on my door asking why I had gone to Barnstaple when I could have gone there," said Buckingham, who left the Tiverton club to become Town's assistant manager in 2005. "I told them they should have asked me at the end of last season.
"(The Elmore offer) didn't really affect the Barnstaple decision, I had already made up my mind."