Blog: The end of an era
Blog: The end of an era

Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at York Road, Maidenhead was the final straw for the Stones hierarchy and the Jay Saunders era at the Gallagher Stadium is over.

But what an era it has been!

When he took over, the club were still marooned in the Isthmian League and playing in front of a couple of hundred at Bourne Park in Sittingbourne.  Whilst Saunders, himself undoubtedly benefited from new owners finally getting permission to get the Stones back to the County town, the reality of what he has achieved in what was his first managerial job cannot be underestimated.

Three promotions in four seasons speak for itself.

FA Cup runs that gained the club national exposure on live television; titanic Play Off wins against Kent rivals took the Stones to the very edge of the Football League – to some of the older Stones faithful still the ultimate target to get the Club back to where it once was.

But to be fair to Saunders, to achieve what he has done is nothing short of amazing.  A robust midfielder himself who played under some of the best Non-League managers that Kent have had, Saunders was always committed and played a huge part in the successes of the 90s and early 00s enjoyed by both Margate and Gravesend and Northfleet – it was a determination that he took into his managerial career and the Stones benefited from it without doubt.

In hindsight, people will now surely question if the writing was not put on the wall when he was heavily linked to a move to Macclesfield during the summer?  That along with the start that the Stones have returned haven’t help as they currently sit 19th in the National League.

With Saturday’s crushing defeat at Maidenhead also shown live on television, “the day that none of us wanted to see” as General Manager Bill Williams was quoted as saying, dawned and the Stones are looking for a new boss.

One thing is for sure, Jay Saunders has left all Maidstone United fans with massive memories and will be a tough act to follow.

What next for Jay is perhaps too early to say, but one thing is for certain, wherever and whoever employs him in whatever role well will get a manager/coach who will give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time… and is a damned nice guy to boot!