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Non-league: Dejected stalwart Middleton one of three to quit Bashley
STALWART Gary Middleton explained the dispiriting on-field collapse at crisis club Bashley convinced him to end his six-year stint in the New Forest.
The 28-year-old centre-half, Bashley’s longest serving player, followed goalkeeper Nic Jones and defensive talisman Ian Richardson in quitting ahead of tomorrow's league cup clash with Weymouth at Wimborne’s Cuthbury home (7.45pm).
Crippling financial restrictions have been a factor in Bash lurching from one catastrophe to another in recent weeks with joint-boss Stewart Kearn resigning before chairman Mike Cranidge slashed the playing budget in half 11 days ago.
The debacle over John Pyatt’s appointment as Kearn’s successor being blocked and then sanctioned by Cranidge followed before the floodlights at Bashley Road failed last Wednesday.
But it was the dismantling of the squad that proved too much for Middleton who reluctantly called time on his lengthy service.
He told the Daily Echo: “The circumstances swayed things a bit. It just got harder and harder for me and the other experienced players.
“It was one of the toughest decisions of my career because I have grown quite attached to the place and the people, but it got to the point where I was asking myself ‘Do I want to be here any more?’
“Losing every week hasn’t helped. I just fell out of love with football and found I wasn’t enjoying it, and when the wage bill got cut again, it made a few of us realise the situation would not be getting better.
"I would love to see Bashley survive but, based on the first 10 games and what has happened since, I just couldn’t see it happening.
"The support has been brilliant and I have enjoyed some good times there, but felt I had to move on.”
Middleton, understood to have been a summer target for Wimborne, said he had no other club lined up and would take time over his next move.
“Ideally, I would like to play at the highest possible level,” he added.
“I might see how the land lies after a couple of weeks and take advantage of some time with the family.”
Meanwhile, Jones confirmed he had yet to find a new club, while Richardson was expected to join striker Tim Sills by switching to Gosport Borough.
Bash: (from) Collins, Morris, Flint, Strickland, Stephenson, Colson, Casey, Roberts, Satterley, Odam, Boultwood, Blackmore, Brookes, Farren, Gazzard.
Goalkeeper Nick Hutchings is doubtful for Poole Town’s FA Trophy replay against Frome Town at Tatnam tomorrow (7.45pm) but Taffy Richardson, Michael Charles and Richard Gillespie should all be in contention.
The winners receive £2,500 in prize money and travel to league rivals Arlesey Town in the second qualifying round on Saturday, November 2.
Dolphins: (from) Thomas, Clarke, Spetch, Cummings, Whisken, Pettefer, Brooks, Devlin, Davies, Preston, Cann, Byerley, Richardson, Charles, Gillespie, Dibba, Elliott, Oliver, Hutchings.
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