James Jepson has lifted the lid on his surprise departure from Kettering Town.
The experienced midfielder was a key figure during the Poppies’ turnaround in fortunes last season as they stormed into the Southern League Division One Central play-offs before losing out on promotion against Slough Town in the final.
With Kettering, now under the leadership of joint-managers Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin, now fully back in pre-season training, Jepson confirmed that he would be leaving the club.
And he has revealed the fact he “wasn’t getting the assurances” he needed to stay and fight for his spot was one of the key reasons for his departure.
The Poppies have strengthened their midfield during the summer with the returns to the club of Brett Solkhon and Andy Hall while they also set to add Ross Oulton, who was with Daventry Town last season, to that department.
And Jepson said: “It’s always healthy to have competition at clubs and, especially at a club like Kettering, that is going to happen.
“I just felt I wasn’t getting the assurances I needed to stay and fight for my place.
“Make no mistake about it, I never wanted guarantees. Just confirmation that I was in the club’s plans.
“It’s hard to leave as I have loved being at Latimer Park. I had a great relationship with everyone, especially the fans.
“I have had two offers to play in the same league with two of Kettering’s rivals, one of which I have rejected and two offers to play in the Evo-Stik Northern League Division One.
“But to be honest, I didn’t I would have to make this choice.”
The Poppies’ technical director Alan Doyle responded to Jepson’s departure in a statement over the weekend.
Doyle said: “It’s always sad to lose a talented player, who has the club at heart but we have to ensure we have options in as many positions as we can.
“All players want to play in every game but that’s just not realistic if the manager is switching systems. I know JJ will be an asset to whichever team he joins and we wish him well.”
Kettering begin their friendly campaign this weekend with a double header in Leicestershire.
The Poppies will combine the first team and under-21 squads for games at Thurnby Nirvana (12.30pm) and Oadby Town (3pm) on Saturday. Those are quickly followed by a short trip to Rothwell Corinthians on Monday night.
Their home friendly against Brackley Town, which was due to take place on Saturday, July 19 has now been cancelled and replaced with an away game at St Neots Town.
But a clash with an Oxford United XI at Latimer Park has been added to the programme and that will be on Tuesday, July 22 (7.30pm).
Admission for the home friendly with Oxford will be £5 for adults, £3 for concessions and £1 for juniors.