PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies’ development team manager Rob Bonney has decided to step down after four seasons in the role.
He said: “I had a chat with the director of football (Trevor Rodd) around October last year and said I felt I had taken the team as far as I could.
“You just get a feeling and with Ryan (Lawton) and Botts (Gary Bottomley) working alongside me, I just felt the timing was right.
“In coaching terms they are both young but they have a great record in junior ladies’ football and they can certainly take this team to the next level. The foundations are certainly there.”
When Bonney took over Argyle’s development team he only had 12 players for his first game. But a big recruitment drive took place and they managed to clinch promotion in his first season.
The second season saw another influx of youngsters and the team narrowly finished second in the league.
Another good recruitment drive in his third campaign saw the team win the league title. But, unfortunately, due to FA rules the team were denied promotion. This led to a lot of players leaving but they were replaced by a group of promising 16-year-olds who joined up with a vital core of experienced players.
“I shouldn’t have been worried despite a sticky start to the season,” said Bonney. “This team were strongly placed to take the league for the second season running before it was abandoned due to the pandemic.
“They were a fantastic group to work with and as long as they keep working hard and don’t settle for mediocrity, they will all have a chance in the game.
“The average age of the team has dropped dramatically and this bodes well for the future of the club.
“I would like to thank Lens (Dave Leonard) and Trev (Rodd) for giving me the chance to manage at a club that means so much to me and my family.
“Things would not be possible without the behind the scenes work of Bellers (Andrew Bellamy ex-secretary) and the tireless efforts from Paul (Partolini) treasure.”
Looking back over his time at the club Bonney said: “It’s for other people to judge whether you have been a success or not but all I can say is it has been hard but I have enjoyed every minute working with every girl who has been involved with the club. I just hope I have influenced them in some way.
“Since the announcement I have had some very warm messages off both players and parents which means more than anything to me.
“Finally, I would like to wish everyone all the best for the future and I feel privileged to have been given the chance to help play a part in their future.”
Director of football Rodd was full of praise for Bonney, who took over from Gary Harris.
“We knew Rob through his great coaching pedigree and as a massive Argyle fan was proud to take on the role,” said Rodd.
“He knew his role was to develop and nurture the talent which he did with a smile on his face.
“He was extremely professional and will be sadly missed. We are grateful for what he has done, he is a nice man who nurtured every single player and was always able to put an arm around a shoulder.”
Rodd added: “Rob was a sensitive man, a humble man, a great human being with great personal qualities. And a lot of the girls will have been extremely grateful for his contribution.”
First team manager Leonard said: “Rob’s been an absolute credit to the football club in the way he’s managed the situation being development team manager.
“He has adapted to the role of bringing on the girls for the first team. The way he has developed the team in that role has been fantastic.
“He will be a great loss, but at the end of the day it is his decision and we wish him all the best in whatever he chooses to do next. We will forever be in his debt for what he has done, he has been an absolute top professional and we respect his decision.”