"THERE'S only one Lennie Derby" was the chant emanating from the home dressing room when the Stratford Town manager told his players that he was resigning," writes Mervyn Collins.

The Masons Road chief had informed chairman Craig Hughes of his intention to quit after training earlier in the week but had decided to keep it from the players until after Saturday's home game against Ludlow Town.

Derby's charges certainly ensured that their manager went out on a high but high spirits from inside the changing rooms were quickly quelled when the manager began his departure speech.

Assistant manager Ian Britton had already been primed to take over and the club couldn't really be in better hands as the former Football League manager at Kidderminster takes control of team affairs.

"It had been building up over the past month and the last two results didn't help the situation," Derby admitted.

"It was a case of enough was enough and perhaps it was a good time to leave. I never wanted to leave halfway through a season although I arrived in the middle of one so perhaps it was right.

"I had spoken with the chairman earlier in the season and said that if things hadn't improved by Christmas then I would step aside. But, it looked like the tide was turning until the Malvern and Rushall defeats and I decided to inform the chairman of my decision after training last Tuesday."

Derby arrived at Masons Road in 1999 with the club facing an uncertain future and struggling in the Midland Alliance.

Derby led Town to successive Lea-gue Cup triumphs but admits that the highlight of his time at Masons Road was that first season when his side finished second behind Oadby Town.