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Departing Keith boss Dean Donaldson says leaving the Highland League club he loves was the most difficult decision he's had to make


By Craig Christie

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DEAN Donaldson said his decision to quit as Keith manager was the toughest he has ever made.

Dean Donaldson has left Keith FC. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Dean Donaldson has left Keith FC. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

But the 37-year-old felt the delay in starting the Highland League due to the Covid-19 pandemic gave the Kynoch Park club the perfect opportunity to bring in a fresh face.

Donaldson broke the news to club chairman Andy Troup over the weekend that he was resigning from the post he was appointed to in January 2018.

Read more: Keith begin search for next boss

He cited family and work reasons for his departure, and revealed how three years of coaching and managing a club he holds close to his heart had taken him on an emotional “rollercoaster”.

He added: “It was just time for me to move on. It was probably the most difficult decision I’ve had to make.

Dean Donaldson took Keith from the Highland League basement to mid table in little over two and a half years as manager. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
Dean Donaldson took Keith from the Highland League basement to mid table in little over two and a half years as manager. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

"I spent half my life at this club so it will always have a place in my heart.

"You can only do your bit and I feel like I’ve done that. I’ve tried to help my club but for me and my family and for us moving forward it was time to call it a day and see what is next on the horizon.

“I just felt it needed something fresh and that it was time for me to give somebody else a shot at it.

“The Keith journey has not been an easy one. It’s been quite an emotional, tough rollercoaster at times.

“For somebody that’s used to winning games and winning trophies, to then come in and be second bottom of the league it was such a challenge. It did have its highs after that and in all honesty, I just feel that with a new manager, as long as the boys give him the same chance as they gave me, the team can only improve and get better.

Dean Donaldson (right) celebrates a goal with Stuart Walker in 2008 during his successful playing career with Keith. Photo: Eric Cormack.
Dean Donaldson (right) celebrates a goal with Stuart Walker in 2008 during his successful playing career with Keith. Photo: Eric Cormack.

“With the long break from football [due to coronavirus], if I leave now it gives somebody the chance to analyse the squad and see who they need and don’t need.

“I felt that instead of prolonging it, it was time to do it now and let the team try and build and move forward.”

Donaldson praised the Maroons for supporting his effort to take the club from the depths of the Highland League basement to mid-table respectability.

And he believes he has left Keith in good shape for the next manager to continue the progress.

“The place is in a good way, it’s better than when I found it which I wanted, so I’m disappointed that I left the boys because that was the hardest thing, leaving all the players.

“I’ve had hundreds of messages from people telling me what a good job I’ve done and it’s really appreciated.

“But it wasn’t just down to me but to the coaching staff as well, and Andy and the players and everybody else.

“It was just little things that every manager has to deal with. If you are not happy with something, then you’ve either got to move on or accept it.

“For me the club has always supported me and always been there for me so I’ve got nothing but love for the club.

“I leave on a good relationship and whoever goes in next will have a good team to pick up, hopefully from where it’s left off.

“If they don’t, there’s something far wrong.

“The foundations have been laid for that team to go on and be successful over the next four or five years with the young players they’ve got.

"That fresh start for the boys, although they probably don’t feel it right now, it will be good for them.

"It’s a job that should be overloaded with candidates wanting to come in.

"The club is in no debt, players don’t get signing-on fees, everyone is under contract. There’s nothing there that a manager has to worry about in a squad.

"I’m sure Andy would make funds available once they get back to football and they can add to the team they’ve already got. It’s set for somebody to go on and do really well.

"I’ve loved playing for the club and I’ve loved managing the club. It’s had its ups and downs but I feel that I’ve done my bit.

"We will meet again and the club just moves on as normal."



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