"No bitterness or anger!" Craig Elliott discusses his Boston United exit

Pilgrims boss leaves club a better manager with fond memories but a feeling of unfinished business

Craig Elliott. Photo: Oliver Atkin
Craig Elliott. Photo: Oliver Atkin

Craig Elliott believes he leaves Boston United a better manager and with memories that will last a lifetime... but no bitterness or anger.

The 43-year-old was relieved of his duties on Monday, the first time in his career, after more than four years in the Pilgrims dug-out.

For Elliott - a former Shaw Lane, Ossett and Glasshoughton Welfare manager - there is a feeling of unfinished business after leaving midway through a campaign following two seasons cut short by Covid.

"It's the first time it's happened to me in my career. I was a bit shocked at the time," he said.

"When things like this happen there's maybe sometimes a bit of bitterness or anger, but I don't feel any of them.

"It's just more disappointment that I couldn't be judged in any other season and finish what I started.

"I've worked extremely hard to get a squad in place and felt that, with a lot of games to go, I could set out to achieve what I wanted to.

"I've not had long periods of bad results before and, this league as well, taking that into account, I was always confident with players coming back that we could go on and do well.

"But it is what it is. There's no bitterness. It's been an unbelievable experience. I've got nothing but fond memories of my time there."

Chairman David Newton stated he felt results have played their part in the decision, with Boston seventh in the National League North.

"I have confidence in my ability and felt I had enough credit in the bank to see the job out," Elliott added.

"But I've nothing but good things to say about everybody involved. Including the chairman, the players and everyone.

"It's a fantastic club and me and my family have absolutely loved it. It's been great."

After yesterday's announcement the ex-Pilgrims boss was bombarded with good will messages - and job offers.

"It's been overwhelming to be honest. I was shocked with the amount of calls and messages I got, which was nice," Elliott added.

"It can be a lonely place being a manager, but last night it wasn't. Especially messages from other managers in the league, it's been a bit overwhelming.

"I had a couple of messages last night from different clubs, but it's still early and you have to wait and weigh things up.

"I've never been in this position before. It's all new to me."

Elliott, however, remains confident the offers will continue, and believes he is now a much better manager than when he arrived at relegation-threatened United in November 2017.

"Without a doubt, you don't last over four years at a big club like Boston without learning a lot," he continued.

"I think I've done a good job as well.

"In a strange way these things are never easy to end. You know it will end but it looks well on my part to leave a club in the play-offs and you're always judged as a manager if you leave a club in a better position. I like to think the people of Boston will realise I've done that.

"I took over in difficult circumstances and there's no doubt I'd raised expectations and left it in a good place.

"There's been a lot of things to overcome over the years, Covid and taking over a team second bottom. Even moving into a new stadium, it was a difficult process.

"These things have all made me a rounded manager and I've learned a hell of a lot from a chairman who shows what it's like to be professional and carry yourself with integrity.

"That's one thing I will carry forward."

And on his future, Elliott continued: "I'd like to think I'm a sought after manager.

"I'm still a young manager and have managed a lot of games and had a lot of success. I've had a lot of experience.

"I've never had a break in 13 years so it will be nice to become a normal person for a bit with my family.

"I definitely feel ready for a new challenge when it comes, but I won't dive right in, it has to be the right one."

While Elliott leaves with what-might-have-beens in his mind - not just this season but the play-off final defeat to Altrincham and FA Cup second round exit at the hands of League One Rochdale - he admits the overriding memories are positive ones.

"There's been big moments where things could be different," he said.

"We were one mistake away from the National League and maybe a mistake or two away from Newcastle in the third round (of the FA Cup).

"But I think just in general, the fans at big games - when we beat the York Cities and at Carshalton - that's what I'll take with me, big moments and atmospheres, especially at the old ground.

"These were special moments that will live with me forever."

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