LONG-SERVING Eastbourne Borough winger Matt Crabb said it was the hardest decision of his football career to leave Priory Lane.
Crabb, 30, who has made more than 500 appearances for his home town club, made his mind up on Saturday after Boro’s home defeat against Salisbury.
Fellow midfielder Matt Smart has also left the club having represented the Sports on more than 450 occasions.
However, veteran defender Darren Baker, who has turned out for Boro’ 949 times, did sign on for another season. It will be his 20th of a remarkable career.
Crabb said, “It was my decision to go and I have to admit it was a hard one. I spoke to Tommy (Widdrington) and the thinking was to play me in a more defensive role with Sam (Cole) bombing on.
“I’m not getting any younger and at first I said I was happy to do that. But after the match on Saturday I spoke with my family and said it was the right time to leave. It was time for a new challenge.”
Boro’ have been a huge part of Crabb’s life since he joined in 2000 from Eastbourne United.
Crabb was one of a group of players that included Ben Austin, Baker and Smart who progressed through the divisions and reached the Blue Square Premier.
They were relegated from the top tier in 2010 and struggled once again this year in the Blue Square South.
Crabb added, “We had some great times here and without doubt the ultimate was going to places like Luton and playing in front of 7,500 fans on a great pitch.
“We have struggled this season but we avoided relegation and hopefully the club will be in a better position to move forward next year.
“I leave with no regrets but I want to thank everyone at the club and the fans for all the support over the years.”
Crabb has not discussed his future but admitted he would be keen to play at the highest level possible and said linking up with his brother Nathan at Lewes would appeal to him.
Widdrington added, “Alan (Kimble) and I thank both for their contribution during our time.
“They certainly played their part and, quite rightly, both lads will live a very long time in the hearts of all Boro’ fans for their long and successful careers at Priory Lane.”
Of Baker the Boro’ boss said, “I am delighted that ‘Bakes’ has agreed to be part of what we are going to do next season. When Alan and I arrived at the club we said that everyone would have their chance and Darren has grabbed his with both hands.
“We are aware of his history and long association but there is absolutely no sentiment in this decision at all.
“That would not be appropriate for the player or the club. This decision is based purely on his ability, professionalism, and what he can bring to the squad.”