By Liam Bryce

FORMER Port Glasgow Juniors manager Craig Brown has paid tribute to ex-colleagues at the club as he steps down after almost nine years in charge.

The promotion-winning boss announced on Monday that he was being forced to step away from the role due to work commitments. Brown, who also captained the Undertakers during a 16-year association with the club, was quick to praise his squad and backroom staff.

He told the Tele: “I’d like to thank everybody at the club, I’ve enjoyed my time there as a player and a manager.

"Everyone was always great with me, and in particular I’d like to mention Scott Jackson and John Dickson who were my two assistants — they were absolutely first class.

“We were a good team and I couldn’t have done it without the two of them.

“I want to wish everyone the best of luck.”

The outgoing gaffer revealed that a sudden change in to his shift pattern meant that he would no longer be able to devote the time required for the job.

Brown asserted that while he was sad to be leaving the club, he felt that a swift resolution was required.

He said: “I was only told on Friday about going on to this new shift so it was all very quick.

“It was a bit of a shock but I thought that the sooner I told everyone the better, which lets the committee look at getting a new manager in as soon as possible.

“It’s disappointing, I’ve been there a long time and we had just won promotion so I was looking forward to the new season.

“Going up had re-charged everyone’s batteries and we’d managed to retain most of last year’s team while adding some new faces as well.

“The squad was looking good but when this opportunity came up with my job I couldn’t turn it down.”

A 5-0 rout of Newmains on the last day of the 2016-17 season sent Port into the Central District First Division after a dramatic run-in. But Brown insists it was the previous fixture against East Kilbride which sticks out for him as it not only put his side within touching distance of promotion, but he managed to exorcise some personal demons as well.

He said: “We knew that if we didn’t win then we probably wouldn’t be going up.

“There was lot of pressure on but the boys were first class and came out with a 2-0 victory.

“I remember as a player we lost out on promotion at East Kilbride on the last day of the season and that was in my mind going into the game.

“Thankfully I was able to put that one to bed.”

The Parklea side finished second behind Glasgow Perthshire and Brown said he was delighted to go out on a high.

He also had a message for the Port squad, who he believes can go on to greater things next season.

Brown said: “They’re a really good bunch of boys, in terms of team spirit they’re probably the best group I’ve worked with.

“I met the team on Monday and told them to be positive about it — a new manager will come in now so everyone has to play for their place and try to impress, it might give them a wee kick.

“When a new boss comes in it’s all about showing him what you can do so it could be a good thing for the boys long term.”

Brown’s assistant John Dickson, pictured, is set to take interim control of the side as the hunt for a new manager begins, but the long serving boss was coy on a potential return to the game at some stage.

He added: “I’ve not got any plans at the minute because of this new shift but I’ve always been involved in football so who knows what the future might hold.”

Port Glasgow’s 2017-18 league campaign kicks off away to Lesmahagow Juniors on Saturday August 19.