THE summer break has begun and it’s fair to say I’m glad we’ve seen the back of this last season.

With the chance to go out with a bang in Tommy’s final game in charge, Saturday’s game against Leamington turned out to be a mini-highlights package of the season. Good football in patches, a decent goal, an inability to kill off the game and then the opposition cutting through our defence like a hot knife through butter. If it wasn’t for it being the last game of the season, the draw would have been as frustrating as the season as a whole, but ultimately, much like most of the season, it simply didn’t matter.

The pre-game announcement of Tommy’s departure will hopefully go some way to appease those who have opted to spend their Saturday afternoons doing something else. It will also hopefully persuade those who opted not to renew their season tickets to rethink their decision.

As much as we all like Tommy the former player and Tommy the decent guy who is great to talk to, Tommy the manager was a bit more of a stretch. Poor recruitment, little real tactical direction and a lack of resilience among his charges took its toll as the season wore on. Yes, there were some good performances but they were almost always followed by poor performances. Whether it was a majority of fans who wanted the change or not, the feeling was we couldn’t face another summer of poor signings. Another season of struggle would have negatively impacted the club. That appears to be a view taken by the board of directors as well as fans.

I was really pleased to see Tommy get a good send-off at the end of the game. As frustrating as the football has been over the last season, one thing that won’t change is the memories of Tommy the player. The guy who gave his all and enjoyed his best football playing for our club. A guy pivotal to our win at Wembley back in 2011. Wherever Tommy’s career takes him, I’m sure everyone will want to see him make a success of it.

As for his replacement, it feels like the pressure is on the board to find a perfect solution. I don’t begrudge them the task in hand. Back when Tommy was appointed, it was public knowledge the directors had been really challenged in finding Martin Gray’s successor. Hopefully, the experience of Tommy’s appointment will help the process this time around.

Without wishing to put too much pressure on the directors, we could really do with finding a manager who knows how to put together a National League North side. As technically-gifted some of our current players are, this division is about physicality and organisation. We don’t need to try and play like Barcelona, we need to be playing more like Stockport County. Less football purist and more football pragmatist. I can see the next few weeks being interesting as speculation intensifies.

Finally, in a season that has been turgid at best, picking a player of the season could be seen as a tough job. Our squad of quality over quantity has been an eclectic mix. A winger of mythological quality, a striker who’s really a defender, a defender who couldn’t jump, a midfielder who didn’t have legs and a keeper who couldn’t read the game. Even so, there have been some reasonable performers.

Club legend Terry Galbraith has dealt well with the chopping and changing of the defence. Tom Elliott has been Mr Versatile. Jordan Nicholson has popped up with important goals (as did Andrew Nelson!). However, for me, my player of the season is Stephen Thompson. I suspect he would probably admit it has not been his finest season for us, but the guy is a talisman and when we have needed him, he has done his thing.

Throughout my near-30 years of supporting Darlo, no player has been so consistently important as him. Hopefully, next season will see him get over the line and become the club’s record scorer, a feat that would be so richly deserved.