MARK Parris has announced that he is stepping down as Chard Town's first team manager with immediate effect, after a tough 2019/20 season for the side.

Parris took on the role in June 2019, after the Robins were demoted to the Western League and previous manager Jamie Manley departed.

A chunk of the first team squad also left, leaving Parris to rebuild the squad for competing in the Somerset County League Premier Division.

Chard sat 16th (second from bottom) in the standings when the season was brought to a premature end due to coronavirus, but their form had improved since the turn of the year.

Parris told the Chard & Ilminster News: "It was a difficult season, and I was never a long-term appointment.

"Now the club has the positive news of a new ground, there's a good opportunity there for someone to come in and move the team forward."

Parris insists that he is not 'walking away' from the club, and will help out as required.

"The club is quite thin on the ground on matchdays, so I will look to help towards that," he said.

"I will also stay on the committee if they still want me."

Looking back on the 2019/20 campaign, Parris said: "It was always going to be a difficult season, and there are some very good sides in the County League.

"My appointment came relatively late, and it was difficult to get friendlies organised.

"I thought most players would stay, but they didn't, and so I had to rebuild the team.

"It always seemed to be one step forward and two steps back.

"We moved Andy Holmes up front, he scored five goals, but then he went to Bridport, as did Tom Salter.

"Danny Cleal came back after injury, he played six or seven games, but then suffered a cruciate ligament injury.

"We were playing 4-4-2 but had lost both full-backs, so went to 3-5-2, which didn't really suit us.

"It wasn't until January that we had a settled side; we put in some decent performances, drew 3-3 at Middlezoy, but then didn't play for a month [due to the wet weather].

"I think we saved our best performance of the season for the last game we played - the [Premier & Division 1 Cup] tie against Nailsea & Tickenham.

"I'm confident that we would have got out of [relegation] trouble."

Parris believes that the club has a bright future, saying: "The club has a very good Under-18 set-up, and at times we had four Under-18s in the first team.

"Four was too many in the County League, so towards the end of the season that was down to two.

"Goalkeeper Owen Searle looks to have a very bright future, while Alex Harper and Ryan Lewis also performed well for us.

"The team is just two or three players short of being a very good side - it needs a strong centre forward to play alongside James Boyland.

"Matt Howell coming back from Wincanton was a big boost, so I hope that he stays.

"The planning permission for a new ground means that someone coming in to the club knows that it has a future.

"Hopefully a new manager will come in and bring some new players with them.

"A good [2020/21] season would give the club a chance of getting back into the Western League - the planning permission is a sign of the club moving forward."

Anyone interested in the role of first team manager at Chard should contact club chairman Lyndsey Gage on 07854372712, before the end of April.


CHARD Under-18 manager Garry Perren has also stepped down, after two years in the role.

His side enjoyed great success in the Western Counties Floodlight Youth League, and could well have earned silverware this season, had it not been cut short.