WHILE a fresh start awaits both Jason Matthews and Weymouth Football Club after Tuesday night’s Dorset Senior Cup final, the departing boss insists there will always be a place in his heart for the club that he loves.
The legendary Terras’ goalkeeper and hugely popular figure over the last 15 years at the Bob Lucas Stadium will have one more chance to claim silverware against Gillingham Town at the Avenue (7.45pm) – his final game as both a player and manager for the club.
And there is nothing more he would like than to have one last special moment in a Weymouth shirt, both for himself, and those that have given him so much support.
Speaking exclusively to Echosport after the decision was made not to keep him in the role next season, Matthews said: “It almost feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, if I’m honest.
“You put pressure on yourself as a manager and Weymouth is a club that I love.
“There is no secret, it has not gone as I or anybody else wanted it to go this season.
“Obviously the amount of draws we have had has killed our league season and, obviously, killed me eventually.
“The last six months, I must admit, have not been enjoyable, but I was never going to be a quitter.
“The new board have made the decision that the best way for the club to go forward is without me. I respect their decision and wish them all the best for the future.”
Having signed a number of talented footballers from across the south west throughout his three-and-half- year managerial tenure, the contacts Matthews has across the area is something that cannot be questioned.
And it was a vast number of those connections that got in touch with him, following the news his Weymouth tenure was coming to an end.
“Having more than 100 text messages hours after I was sacked is unbelievable really,” he said.
“It put a warm feeling in my heart that people in non-League football have looked out for me.
“It is nice to have had two or three offers straight away as well, which was something that I didn’t envisage.”
While also flattering for Matthews, the offers which the player-manager revealed have come his way have only made it more clear in his mind that coaching and management is something he wants to continue with.
He claimed: “I have learnt an unbelievable amount, especially in the last six months.
“That particular six months hasn’t been my most enjoyable in management but it has taught me the most.
“As a manager, I felt that I was nearly there and I felt that, with one more season and the same budget I had at Weymouth, I could have done it (achieved promotion) and that will always hurt me.
“You probably can’t be as loyal as I have been with certain things and I probably need to have a little bit more of a ruthless streak.
“I never felt at any point that I had lost the dressing room. If I felt I had done, I would have walked away.
“If the right job comes up now, I will be applying for it.
“With the club not renewing my contract next season, it doesn’t stop my hunger for football and, if anything, it has refreshed it in the last few days.
“I have got a burning determination to succeed in whatever I do.”
But for now, Matthews’ immediate focus is on rewarding those that have backed him over the years with one final trophy, and it is those people he wishes to thank.
“A massive thanks must go to Paul Maitland,” Matthews said. “He is someone who you can rely on and would go out of his way for the football club. That’s why we worked so well and got on so well together.
“I’d like to give thanks to Chris (Pugsley, chairman), he came in when I asked him and, no matter what people think, he has transformed that club. He has turned it around to make a profit, which, at that level of football, is unheard of.
“He has put a lot of time and effort in and sometimes people need to be careful what they wish for in football – the proof will be in the pudding there.”
He continued: “You get people like Brian Walbrin who is unbelievable with the support he gives to the club with the coach. Liz Bell does an unbelievable job within the club as well.
“Moles (Mark Molesley) has been a fantastic help this season. It will also be sad to say goodbye to Dave Tune the kit man – I’ll miss going into the dressing room and seeing his smile.
“I won’t miss Micky Greeno’s terrible banter or the way he pumps the balls up too hard! But he does it all for nothing and he is another person I wish to thank. I’d like to thank my dad as well for the support he has given me.”
And while some of the most difficult moments for Matthews at Weymouth have come in recent times, he is calling for the club to unite and push forward following his departure, and will be an interested spectator along the way.
“There are a lot of supporters that go home and away. I know I can look every one of them in the eye and say I give it my best shot,” he added. “Some of those fans travel the length and breadth of the country and credit to them. I fully appreciate them and thank them massively for their support.
“But football moves on and I urge the people that probably got me the sack to come out from behind their keyboards. Now is the time for them to support Weymouth Football Club.
“The general consensus was that people wanted a change and the board have done that, now it’s up to them to get the right person to replace me.
“I thank Weymouth Football Club for giving me the opportunity to manage such a great club. Now is the time for them to stand up and be counted and push it on.”
Should Matthews’ side beat the Gills in the final, it will be his third-straight Dorset Senior Cup triumph.