THE humility that distinguished Paul Maxwell throughout his playing career was again evident when he spoke yesterday about his decision to step down as Ashfield manager at the end of this season.

In truth though, there was never the faintest chance of him flying under the radar after announcing his intention to end a 15 year association with the famous old Glasgow outfit…and not just because he stands 6 foot plus in his stocking feet and close to 13 stone.

Neither are his Saracen Park playing charges of a mind to let him “leave quietly” judging by last Saturday’s 6-0 hammering of Carluke Rovers, thanks to goals from Sean Doherty (2), David Raffery, Darren McGuire , Ryan McManus (pen) and Colin Leverage, which followed on from the previous weekend’s resounding 6-2 victory over Glasgow University.

These impressive back-to-back wins lifted Ashfield to eighth place in the Conference Division B standings and also fuelled hopes of clinching the one remaining promotion place Maxi passionately insists is still up for grabs (he believes Cambuslang Rangers , St Cadocs and Gartcairn are shoo-ins for the others).

The 37 year old scoffed: “If I’d thought news of my departure would incite the players into serving up such outstanding performances then I’d have told them weeks ago.

“Seriously though, my connection with the club is not so much coming to an end as taking a different direction due to my recent appointment as Managing Director of the Ashfield Academy.

“There are key company and community projects on the horizon particularly our plans  to obtain an asset transfer or lease  a proposed new ground at Chirnsyde in nearby Milton, that needs nothing less than 100% commitment and focus which meant something had to give and I felt my stepping back from footballing duties was in the best interests of Ashfield in the long run.

“My affiliation for the club and its people, not least of all my coaches Ryan Cairley and Ryan Dakhill  as well as our Chairman Tam Robertson , the man who gave me the opportunity to come  here , is well documented and they know how difficult it was for me to walk away at this juncture.  

“I am so proud to have received the opportunity to manage Ashfield but now is time for the club to bring in a bit of freshness to the dressing room while I will endeavour in my new role behind the scenes to help the club achieve a new footing and foundation in order to progress to bigger and better things.”

Maxi can lay claim to three separate stints with the Possil side,  initially joining  from Royal Albert in 2004 prior to  his displays earning  a brief step upstairs to Dumbarton before returning to play a significant role in the highly successful Stevie Rankin steered  2011 and 2012 side.

He followed Rankin to Irvine Meadow but was back at Saracen in 2017, firstly as player/coach under Robert Docherty before assuming the reins in his own stead for the past four years.

Maxi admitted “My time in charge has been mixed but never less than highly enjoyable and I hope to use my experience of all things Ashfield to help our club officials choose my successor.

“Advertising the post has resulted in a very impressive list of applicants but the hard bit comes now in identifying the right man for the job.”

Elsewhere , the Fourth Round draw for the South Challenge Cup (to be played 5th February) has thrown up an array of  intriguing contests   most notably the all-Premier Division head to heads of Auchinleck Talbot v Irvine Meadow and  Clydebank v Pollok however an undoubted contender for tie of the round status is unbeaten Arthurlie hosting the visit of Lowland League leading lights Bonnyrigg Rose.

The full draw

Sauchie v Troon

Spartans v Syngenta

University of Stirling v Hurlford United
Beith v Bo'ness Utd

Linlithgow Rose v Blantyre Vics

Civil Service Strollers v Jeanfield Swifts

Renfrew v Bo'ness Athletic

Cumbernauld Utd v Petershill

Arthurlie v Bonnyrigg Rose

Caledonian Braves v Drumchapel Utd

Vale of Leven v Thorniewood Utd

Clydebank v Pollok

Maybole v Darvel/Cambuslang Rangers

Dundonald Bluebell v Tranent

Irvine Meadow v Auchinleck Talbot

Cumbernauld Colts v East Kilbride