FORMER Bridport caretaker boss Shaun Annetts has opened up his trials and tribulations with the Bees last season.

Annetts initially began the 2021/22 Toolstation Western League season as assistant to previous manager Rob Marquis.

However, when Marquis was sacked following a 12-1 loss to Millbrook, Annetts agreed to step up – despite not taking pay for his work.

He was then joined towards the end of the season by Edgar Marcu, who would go on to take the first-team job.

But with Annetts placed under great strain in the role, he has now spoken on his experiences.

READ MORE: Shaun Annetts and Edgar Marcu worked for free in second half of season

He told the Bridport News: “As soon as that last game was completed it was a massive weight off my shoulders. It was good not to have to worry about it any more.

“By the time that last ball was kicked, I was done. I haven’t really been to the club since that game.

“I remember speaking to Rob after he parted with the club in December. Even he felt at that point a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

“Although he was the one that got dismissed, he probably had the better deal. I was asked to run the team for the remaining fixtures. That was not an easy thing to have to do. So, I’m looking forward to the summer.”

Annetts also told of the wave of emotions caused by Bridport’s form, which saw the Bees lose 34 of 36 league games – often heavily.

“There were periods of the season where I was quite angry,” he admitted.

“I felt quite let down and certain mistakes have been made.

“I think the appointment of Rob with me as assistant was wrong. In my view, going down the young and local (player) route was a nice thing.

“But in practice it was never going to be possible to do and be competitive. Rob acknowledges between us we didn’t have the contacts that were going to attract the players.

“It was always going to be a tough ask. The budget was good in a lot of respects but compared to a lot of teams at that level was a fraction.

“Although, there are teams that operate with similar or less. It’s not about how much you’re prepared to spend.

“Each player that played was given the same amount and that was probably wrong. It should’ve been thought about more, offering one player more and another less might’ve been the way forward.

“I think that’s a possibility going forward with next year’s team. So, that was an error on our part.

“When Rob left, the budget we had (halved). That caused problems for me with the position we were in in the league and confidence at rock bottom. That period was unbelievably tough.”

Annetts also revealed his struggles with compiling a side, so low was morale and availability.

“There were Fridays where I was sat in my office,” he said. “I should’ve been working but I was literally ringing round and trying to get 11 players to play – especially the away fixtures.

“There was big pressure on me to fulfil those fixtures and many times I didn’t expect to be able to do that.

“It’s not easy to run the team and drive the minibus when I found myself on my own, sort the kit out, be the first aid guy – it was very, very hard.

“There are a lot of people who will look back on Bridport’s season and find it amusing or embarrassing.

“But I feel a sense of achievement to get the club to the end. I don’t think there’s many people that would have stuck it out and did what I did – I truly believe that.

“People close to me told me to walk away but my loyalty, stubbornness and affection to the club made me stay.”

Annetts also stated his belief that Bridport’s downward spiral had begun even before the first league game.

“A certain amount of damage was done during pre-season when the friendlies started. Those results set a marker down – especially the game against Portland, a 4-0 home defeat when you hope to be competitive.

“It started the doubts, certainly some of the players we had on board began to become nervous and apprehensive.

“Attracting players was going to be difficult and the ones we had began to drift away. Troy Walbridge and Riley Weedon went off to Portland – and I understand that.

“We weren’t able to get a couple of players that we’d spoken to over the line because of those early results. I think the season was determined by those results, I really do.

“But I can’t thank those players that stuck with me to the bitter end enough.”

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