GERARD Hitchcock is “stepping away” after two seasons as manager of Lyme Regis due to family reasons, the Seasiders’ boss revealed.

Hitchcock’s exit brings to a close 14 years of management at Lyme – 12 of which were served as reserve-team boss – but he will continue to sit on the club’s committee.

However, the former Lyme midfielder, who could also be deployed as a striker or defender, is open to a return to command.

Hitchcock’s departure comes as the Davey Fort side occupied fifth in the Macron Devon & Exeter League Premier Division – Step 8 of English football.

Lyme, who are yet to announce Hitchcock’s successor, were 19 points adrift of leaders Okehampton Argyle, with four games in hand, before league officials voided the division.

The termination fell into line with the FA’s directive to void all Step 3 to 7 leagues.

Speaking to the Bridport News, he said: “This is going to be my last season of managing for the time being, so for it to finish like it has is massively disappointing.

“I’m stepping away for family reasons – that’s the way it is.”

Hitchcock revealed the Seasiders have already been made aware of his intention to vacate the managerial hotseat.

“We sat down, had a chat and I said ‘look, as much as I’d love to (continue), it’s not going to happen,” he explained.

“I can’t level that amount of commitment, I’m not going to have that time.

“I’ve always been one to advocate that, as a first-team manager, you should always be making training, be available to go to other games, see teams.

“It’s been hard enough this last season. It wasn’t fair to me, the team, the club.

“It’s very hard to whinge at players for not going to training if you don’t make it yourself.”

While Lyme were positioned high up the table after their promotion from Division One, Hitchcock felt the decision to terminate the campaign was correct.

He said: “We had a good deal of home games left as well, which would’ve been in our favour. It would’ve made the season a very interesting one because it was all still up in the air.

“That’s why I think it was easier to cancel it now. It wasn’t like someone was a complete runaway, but logistically we were never going to finish.

“Not after it was going to be postponed for a period of time. There’s too many different things that are going to happen.

“People are going to work when we go back, if the cricket season had kicked in – which I don’t think it will – it would’ve been on us.

“That impacts on pitches because with a council pitch they’re only allowed to play until a certain time and if they share with cricket (teams), they would’ve been playing.

“It was never going to happen. You were just waiting for the call to say ‘yeah, we are cancelling it’ because we all know (the virus) isn’t a two-week thing, it’s going to disappear and everything’s going to be back to normal.

“It’s going to take a decent while for the whole country to get itself sorted.”