Stonesmanager quits as season starts badly

MAIDSTONEUnitedmanager Jay Saunders has paid an emotional tribute to fans and staff at the club after he left bymutual consent. Mr Saunders departed onAugust

28, after seven years in the job. In a statement posted on Twitter,

he said: “From supporting the club as a child to proudly wearing the shirt on the pitch, managing the Stoneswas a dream. “I’ve been through every emotion

with the club and I amthankful for the opportunities andthememories. “I amdisappointedI couldn’t take

the teamback to the football league, but the opportunity to haveplayeda part in this chapter of the club’s his- tory has been a privilege.” He was appointed inMarch 2011

as caretaker manager, and made permanent at the endof that season. Mr Saunders led the side to three

promotions in four seasons and into theNational (orConference) league, the highest in non-league football. But the Stones’ season has had a bumpy start, with two defeats over

the August bank holiday, which seemto have sealed his fate. Club chief executive BillWilliams

said: “This is a day none of us wanted to come but we’ve decided to go our separateways. “In 60 years of football, this is one

of the toughest decisions I’ve been involvedwith. I count Jay as a friend and have the utmost respect for what he’s achieved here. “Jay has become synonymous

with Maidstone United over recent years and his place in our club’s his-

Jay Saunders, pictured with his wife Hayley, has left his role as manager of Maidstone United after seven years in the job

tory is assured. His influence went beyond the first team to the acad- emy, player development centres and soccer schools. “He will always have a special

place at the club, we thank him for everything he’s done and wish him the very best.” Mr Saunders, who lives locally,

started his career at Gillinghambut was released by thenmanager Tony Pulis. He forged a successful career in non-league football before turn- ing his hand tomanagement.


Safety aware this summer

INCIDENTS over the summer prompted a community awareness day at Leybourne Lakes Country Park. Park rangers, PCSOs and the

county council’s community war- denswere onsite to talk to locals and visitors about staying safe, looking after the park and being a consider- ate user of the open space. Kent Fire andRescue Service from

Larkfield also used the chance to handout leaflets andadvise thepub- lic about the dangers of unautho- rised swimming, in that thewater at the lakes is often deeper and colder than it looks and may contain un- seen hazards. Public bathing is not authorised

at Leybourne Lakes Country Park, or any of the council’s open spaces. However, regulatedswimming is al- lowedthroughthe authorisedon-site Watersports Centre. People must complete a swim test and a safety boat is in operation at these sessions. A council spokesman said: “We want residents and visitors to enjoy our lovely country parks in safety andavoidputtingthemselves indan- ger. Our rangers and volunteers are there to help so please don’t hesitate to ask for their help and advice."

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