Simon Daws insisted he is still “Holwell through and through” despite stepping down after eight seasons with the Welby Road club.
The 52-year-old told the players after Saturday’s season finale at Graham St Prims before passing the news on to chairman Graham Lewin.
It has been a tough campaign for Sports, and perhaps the toughest of Daws’ lengthy managerial career, as several player departures and long-term injuries wrecked the exciting early season promise.
“I don’t like to step down, but I think it’s the right decision for the club,” he said.
“I’ve been thinking about it for the last eight to 10 games; it was a combination of things.
“It was the right time, not just for me, but also for the club to get some fresh blood.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time there, I’ve made some good friends and hope I have achieved a few things, too.
“They have been a big part of my life for the last 10 years. I am still Holwell through and through.”
The club is due to hold a committee meeting on Saturday to weigh up their options and begin the search for a new manager.
“There will be interest I’m sure,” said Lewin. “This is a good club with a good name.
“We have to start again and look at doing things in a different way.
“We have to get more emphasis on lads coming through again. In a few seasons we will definitely get the youth team back.
“While it is a sad time, it’s also an exciting time for the club.”
Daws joined the club in 2006 and guided them to successive top six finishes in the Senior League.
Promotion to the newly-formed East Midlands Counties League came in 2008/09 and a seventh-place finish in their debut season secured Holwell’s entry into the FA Cup for the first time.
Despite this, the committee duly sacked Daws, only to recall him for a second spell two seasons later.
He took them back up the table and achieved three top 10 finishes with a high point of fifth in 2012/13.
The former semi-professional player, who played under Martin O’Neill at Grantham Town, finally broke Holwell’s curse in the FA Cup.
He guided them to their first win ni the competition last season which led to two exciting giantkilling runs, while more higher league teams were dispatched in the FA Vase.
But it was one such FA Cup upset against county rivals Kirby Muxloe that sparked this season’s dramatic slide in fortunes.
Eight players would leave the club in the autumn, seven of whom had started the first game of the season, and coupled with long-term injuries to key players, a makeshift Holwell slid down the table.
Saturday’s 5-4 defeat at Graham St Prims left them fourth-bottom in 16th and marked Daws’ worst campaign.
Daws added: “It benefitted us financially, but this season it cost us because it put our players in the shop window and people left to go to a better standard of football.
“Who knows, if we had been knocked out in the first round we could have kept the side together and achieved things in the league.
“I don’t think there are many people around who could have coped with the loss of those players. I did as good a job as I could.
“Now it needs someone new with fresh contacts.”
Daws, who farms at Muston, Hickling and Asfordby, now plans to take stock and have a break from football before deciding upon his next move.
But on top of results and league positions, Lewin believes his friend will be missed for his off-field contributions also.
“We owe Simon a big thank-you” he added. “He has done a great job at the club over the years, not just in running the team, but for what he’s done off the pitch as well.
“It was a sad day. They were my first words to my wife when I got home. It was very emotional.
“We shook hands and remain friends. I told him not to be a stranger and he says he will always be available on the phone if needed.”