JAMIE Stuart admitted he was shocked to see his tenure as Grays Athletic manager come to an end.

Stuart, who is regarded as a club legend after enjoying two spells with Grays during his playing career, parted ways with the Isthmian North side after three years at the helm.

And Stuart was surprised to depart the club just 48 hours after guiding Grays to a derby draw at Tilbury.

“The club is fan owned and I got a call from Steve Skinner about the decision on Monday morning,” said Stuart.

“It came as a real surprise to me that I was leaving the club, but it appears as though there were people on the board who didn’t think I was the right man for the job.

“The boys were buzzing because of being in good form and we had just gone to Tilbury with lots of fans who created a great atmosphere.

“The fans were singing my name at the end of the game and I applauded them as I walked off the pitch.

“I then went in the bar and had a few drinks with the supporters after the game, so it’s surprising that I have left after what I thought was a good day.

“Football is a game of opinions but it has come as a shock.”

Stuart boasted two stints with Grays during his playing career, with the central defender enjoying great success.

Having completed the Conference South and FA Trophy double in the 2004/05 season, Stuart played a key role as Grays retained the FA Trophy in the following campaign.

And despite parting ways, Stuart insists Grays will remain a big part of his life.

“Grays are a big part of my life and I would run through a brick wall for them,” added Stuart.

“But some supporters perhaps don’t see what goes on behind the scenes.

“I gave it my all and built a squad when the club was in dire straits with no budget.

“I got the club competing again and I have so many happy memories at the club.”

And Stuart conceded the players were distraught when he told them of his departure.

“The boys were shocked when I told them I was going,” confirmed Stuart.

“I have had the support from all of the players and some of them remained at the club because of me.

“Stanley Muguo had an offer to go to another club, where he would have been on more money, earlier in the season but he turned it down because he wanted to stay at the club with me.

“We had gone three games unbeaten and had a game in hand on Tilbury, so I thought the boys would go on a good run and finish the season strongly.

“But that’s football and there is nothing I can do about the situation.”

Stuart is set to assess his options before deciding his next move.

“I love the game and it’s a big part of my life,” admitted Stuart.

“I have been in the game for a long time and I would like to continue in football management.

“Since the news, I have already had a couple of phone calls from teams in leagues above.

“What has happened is still a shock to the system so I will take my time before deciding what happens next in my career.”