WAS it self-assured, or was it self-sabotage?

Whatever your view of Glenn Howes’ extraordinary handover of power to Tom Killick at Dorchester Town, we can all agree it was a selfless gesture.

Rarely does a football manager abdicate their throne so readily.

Even rarer is a boss who actively pursues another as their replacement and then stays to become number two.

This is the curious case of Howes, a man whose apparent interests are that of his club, his employers and the badge he wears with pride.

READ MORE: Tom Killick takes over as Dorchester Town boss

It is almost unthinkable in this modern era of cash-soaked football that ‘unselfishness’ can be a recognised word in the dictionary, let alone a concept put into practice.

Actions speak louder than words, after all.

And Dorchester fans, if they weren’t already sure, now have a full case study into the sort of man Howes is, simply because of his actions this week.

Rewind two years and Howes was a winning machine.

He led Blackfield & Langley to back-to-back promotions.

He guided AFC Totton to the top of the Southern League Division One South before Dorchester came calling. The pull of Step 3 football was too hard to resist.

The idea of exchanging a winning habit to battling a losing one at his new club did not seem to faze this ambitious young manager.

Through it all, Howes has not given up his seat at the Magpies’ top table for nothing, nor has he fallen on his sword.

And it certainly hasn’t happened due to results – even after the 5-0 loss to Plymouth Parkway on Tuesday.

Dorchester had taken ten points from a possible 12 in the previous four matches and looked to be finding their feet after a difficult start to the season results, injuries and performance-wise.

He certainly was under minimal pressure, underlined by his non-contract status.

If chairman Scott Symes wanted to pull the trigger, he could have done it when Dorchester were winless after the first five games of the season.

Dorset Echo: Glenn Howes' record as Dorchester manager from October 2021 to September 2023Glenn Howes' record as Dorchester manager from October 2021 to September 2023 (Image: IDRIS MARTIN)

No, this has been a careful, thought-out process in the aftermath of Killick’s sacking by Poole.

When Howes joked to Echosport that Killick might not be washing his car on a Saturday for much longer, we perhaps should all have sat up and taken more notice.

But to understand how and why Howes arrived at this decision, we have to look at his contribution to Dorchester in the 23 months previous, spread across 89 matches.

Howes came to the Avenue Stadium as a former Dorchester player. He knew what the club is about, knew how the Magpies craved to return to former glories and he knows what the fans expect.

His target, back in 2021/22, was to turn fortunes around after what felt like a recurring nightmare, to some supporters, of fighting against relegation every season.

READ MORE: Tom Killick's first interview as Dorchester Town boss

Their greatest fears looked like being realised in March 2022 when Dorchester turned in a turgid performance against bottom-of-the-league Merthyr. They deservedly lost 3-1 at home.

Suddenly, the Magpies were pondering life in Step 4.

But a critical 2-1 victory at Kings Langley proved the spark for a successful survival mission, even with a squad lacking depth and quality in many areas.

The win galvanised Dorchester further and they pushed promotion-chasing Farnborough and Met Police extremely hard in 1-0 losses.

Their performances in those games preserved their belief and they went on to beat Wimborne, Hendon and Salisbury to officially confirm safety, all without conceding a goal.

The relief on Howes’ complexion was palpable but already it was obvious the Magpies’ manager was determined to avoid a repeat on his watch.

In summer 2022, Dorchester were thrust into a rigorous pre-season, playing nine friendlies, and duly began the new campaign like trains by taking four wins from five matches.

These were riches hardly seen by Dorchester fans in modern times, and the results set the tone for the season.

Dorchester were always in the play-off places or loitering within striking distance of them until a testing run of one victory in 12 games between late January and late March.

It meant the Magpies slipped down the league table and eventually finished 13th when they undeniably deserved to breach the top half and possibly top eight.

Howes, then, had delivered on his promise to dodge the relegation picture completely and force Dorchester fans to look up the table rather than down.

He did so with thirst, with dignity, with intelligence and with compassion for a club whose fabric, if it hadn’t been already, was now entwined in his very fibre.

Dorset Echo: Glenn Howes, right, and James Wood, left, will stay at the Avenue Stadium under KillickGlenn Howes, right, and James Wood, left, will stay at the Avenue Stadium under Killick (Image: IDRIS MARTIN)

Working with Howes for almost two years now, it is impossible not to notice how he has Dorchester’s best interests at heart.

Every loss hurt but still he would face the media in defeat and give a balanced, unbiased and erudite assessment.

A further measure of Howes would be his insistence on handing media duties to assistant James Wood or coach Brian Churchill when Dorchester had won.

It was a sure sign he would take responsibility and front up in bad times, but equally share the limelight when times were good.

And so you start to appreciate the kind of man Howes is.

Heading into the current season, a key aim was to conjure success in the FA Cup.

When Dorchester crashed out at their nemesis Plymouth Parkway, the pain was etched in Howes’ body language.

He so badly wanted to take Dorchester on a cup run they had been starved of for a decade.

Waiting for interview after that defeat, he stood and pondered not only his future but of another early exit in this esteemed competition.

Following the conference, Howes privately questioned his tenure as boss but there appeared no cast-iron substance to his thoughts.

However, four weeks later he is now Dorchester Town’s assistant, not manager.

It is doubtful whether he could have predicted Killick’s demise after 19 years at Poole but, when it happened, Howes leapt into action.

It is also unclear whether the second Parkway defeat had crystalised an impression in his mind that the club, or indeed he, needed Killick’s help to continue his renaissance at Dorchester.

But there can be no truer test of a person to recognise when the time is right to step aside.

Is it a case of doing the right thing? Or is it another forward step taken on Dorchester’s road to success?

Everyone knew Howes’ capabilities as a manager before he came to the Avenue.

But in making this challenging decision we see his capabilities as a person.

Classy on and off the pitch, always willing to crack a joke, generous with his time and above all caring for his players and every member of staff at the club.

These are all qualities of a football manager ahead of his time.

Howes is selfless in football’s ballooning era of greed and selfishness, where morals are dispensed with the moment cash hits the bargaining table.

Whether Howes’ confidence in his bond with Killick, and therefore his security at Dorchester, is self-assured remains to be seen.

Certainly, there is a case to say his actions are self-sabotage, especially as his footballing CV will now need downgrading to ‘assistant’.

But could this in fact be a calculated move to heighten the understanding of his trade under a local master in Killick?

Will Howes now have the opportunity to hone his coaching skills on the training ground, enhancing players he himself brought to the club?

It may well be that Howes becomes a better manager through this process.

He has seen the bigger picture for Dorchester and his loss could be the Magpies’ gain with Killick at the helm.

So, is it self-assuredness? Is Howes confident enough to believe his stock value remains high after this abdication?

Or has he sabotaged his own journey as a manager for the good of a club he clearly loves immensely?

The answer is yes to both.

Crucially, it has been a solution arrived at intellectually.

Howes is a thinking manager, in every sense of the phrase. Tactically, compassionately and futuristically.

He is of course still at the club and so this is not a goodbye, despite the style of this opinion piece.

Perhaps now, through his actions, Dorchester fans can truly see the man Howes is.

He might not get a statue outside the Avenue to recognise his actions and achievements.

But, for demonstrating his love for Dorchester, he might just become an iconic figure to many fans in his own right.

Well deserved, you might say.