Pete Buckingham has shocked Devon's Non-League football fraternity by rejoining Toolstation Western League Division One club Elmore – after stepping down as Barnstaple Town manager without presiding over a match.
Buckingham – who played for Elmore and also managed the Tiverton-based team for nine years – stepped down as Cullompton Rangers boss at the end of last season, citing his previous spell in charge of Barnstaple as a key reason for heading back to the north Devon outfit.
However, despite taking nine new signings to Barum, including former Cullompton men Alex Greening and Brett Worbey, Buckingham blamed a lack of local players as a key reason for him returning to the Eagles.
"I feel I'm going home," he said. "I had a couple of sleepless nights wondering what to do, because it wasn't an easy decision, but I trust Elmore as a club.
"I've been associated with Elmore for years. I made my league debut with them at 16 years of age and I managed there for nine years too.
"It was a difficult decision to reach because there are a lot of nice people at Barnstaple, but I felt it would be unfair on them to quit any later.
"I do not want to be disrespectful to Barnstaple in any way, but I just felt it unhealthy to have so few local players.
"Why should all the players I took up from Cullompton have to travel 30 miles up the link road to Barnstaple when most could probably walk to Elmore to play?
"Barnstaple is a big club with a lot of history, but it needs a top manager and more players from the local area if it wants to succeed.
"I just thought it unhealthy that most of the team had to travel from Tiverton and Exeter to play at Barnstaple. I doubt that they'll see it like this, but in a way I hope they think I've done them a favour because maybe now they will wake up and realise what a problem it is.
"Football needs to go back to basics with players from the local area because it costs too much to pay for expenses."
Buckingham will take over as manager at Elmore in time for the new season while Ryan German, who stepped in as boss at Horsdon Park following former manager Chris Vinnicombe's departure from the Toolstation Western League club, will remain as Buckingham's assistant.