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Lure of playing for Blackstones leaves Lewis with tough call

Manager Lewis Morley has admitted that his decision to step down from the Stamford Bels helm and return to playing was the most difficult of his career.

Morley has accepted an offer to join United Counties League Division One side Blackstones as a player for the coming campaign.

That has forced him to resign from his player-management role with the Peterborough League Division One club.

Lewis Morley in action for Stamford Bels last season. (11817405)
Lewis Morley in action for Stamford Bels last season. (11817405)

He explained: "It was the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in football, leaving behind the squad which we have built over the past two seasons.

"The club is ran superbly and, as a player, you don't realise how much stuff goes on behind the scenes to make the club run.

"But, since being a manager, you notice how much time and effort is put in - from signing a player to organising a club charity event there is always something going on.

"A huge credit has to go to the committee for this because without this group of people you wouldn’t have a club."

Morley took over the reigns at the Stamford club two years ago, aged just 20, after a potentially career-threatening knee injury.

But he has worked his way back to full fitness and impressed in three matches for Stones last season after Bels' league campaign had ended.

Morley added: "I moved into management much earlier than I’d ever imagine, after an awful knee injury I ruptured my ACL and MCL while fracturing and dislocating my knee which required an operation and putting me out of playing for more than a year.

"But Bels gave me the opportunity to stay in the game which I’ll be forever grateful for.

"I was always told to play as high as you can else you’ll regret not trying it in the future. Lee Clarke and Daniel French have given me this opportunity to do this next season at Blackstones and I’m really looking forward to it.

"I played the last three games of the season for Blackos and felt like I fitted in well within their squad.

"In football the most important thing is the players you are surrounded by and at Blackos you can tell they have a real togetherness within the changing room with a group of quality players.

"After speaking to Clarkey and Frenchy I can see the direction which the club wants to go in and I hope I can help take the club forward."

Lewis Morley played three games for Blackstones last season. (11817413)
Lewis Morley played three games for Blackstones last season. (11817413)

Morley led Bels to a fourth place finish in Division One last season while also reaching the final of the Ancaster Cup for a second successive campaign.

They had won the Peterborough Challenge Cup the previous season after beating Division One champions Moulton Harrox Reserves in the final.

Morley continued: "I’ll leave with so many memories on and off the pitch, but winning the club's first trophy with 200 Bels fans watching and singing for 90 minutes has to be top of the list - it will remain my biggest achievement and most incredible memory in football.

"After speaking to Bels legend and committee member Martin Conneely, he said the club has been turned around.

"In the 16/17 season Bels struggled to get one side out each week and it looked like they were going to go to one team, but after the past two seasons I will leave with each team having 16 players week in week out.

"I believe that I have done what I tried to do and will leave the club in a very strong position to challenge for the title next season."

Morley's assistant Dave Cramp will take over the Bels reigns with Joe Morley as his number two.

Morley explained: "I spoke to the players first before I announced my departure to the club, this was to ensure they would stay and fight for the title next season.

"All but one player will continue to play next year. Keeping the same group of players with limited changes is vital for Bels next season.

"Crampy stepping up as manager is also key to Bels’ future success as he is a well-respected member of the club who the players will look up to and listen to.

"Bringing Joe in will allow for younger players to also come through the ranks and fight for their places.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club. Firstly the committee for giving me this opportunity, we had so many people laugh at the decision of selecting me as first team manager but I believe we have proved those doubters wrong, while picking up silverware on the way.

"I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without Crampy - his help and experience has been vital and I wish him every success next season.

"But most importantly the players - they didn’t have to stay when I first came but they listened to my ideas, respected what I had to say and stuck by me the whole journey.

"I wish Bels all the success in the future and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity."

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