DEJECTED Jeff Softley says he was “shocked” after receiving the news in a 30-second phone call that he was sacked as Downton manager.

Softley, pictured, had a difficult season at the helm as the Robins finished second from bottom in Wessex Premier.

For the majority of the campaign he was left managing a depleted squad as injuries and missing players took its toll.

But the former manager, who spent eight seasons in control, couldn’t believe his time had come to an end over the phone on Sunday, May 4.

“I’m still struggling to come to terms with it,” said Softley.

“However, I did have a bad feeling about my future when I was in the bar after the last game of the season. But I was shocked to be sacked over a short phone call and not even be pulled in for a meeting.

“I’d already been in the process of sealing a sponsor for next season - I’m just very disappointed.

“The lads have been good, calling and texting me to thank me for my time as manager. Fellow league coaches have also been in contact.”

The former Bemerton Heath Harlequins coach led Downton to the Wessex Division title in 2010/11 and he secured a sixth place finish – the highest in their history - the following season.

Softley also brought three Hospital Cups to Wick Lane.

Meanwhile, Softley is still keen to stay in management and has already had two offers from local clubs, including one in the Wessex Premier.

He added: “I don’t want to be out of football yet.

“I have to do what’s best for my family and I will be thinking carefully about the offers.”

Colin Hopkins has succeeded Softley as manager and budding coach Jack Brooks is his assistant.