Hemel Stags’ long-standing head coach Troy Perkins is stepping down after 12 seasons with the club, the team announced on Monday.
Hemel chairman Bob Brown paid tribute to Perkins’ long association with the club, saying he has been “one of the heroes of rugby league in the south of England”.
Perkins joined the Stags in 2006 as a player-coach and immediately took the club to a National League 3 Grand Final appearance against Bramley Buffaloes.
In the following seasons, Hemel habitually made the play-offs and in 2012 won the RLCN Grand Final after defeating Underbank Rangers.
This proved to be a perfect lead into the Stags being one of the expansion clubs to join the Championship 1 league in 2013, where they reached the play-offs and repeated the performance in 2014.
The change of the Championship 1/League 1 structure in 2015 from a development league to a performance league put huge pressures on the Stags as a club, but Perkins remained fully committed to the role.
When Perkins joined the Stags, he was a single man but now he has three children, with the oldest – Amelie – now almost a teenager.
The club said in a press release that Coventry-based Perkins has “found the pressures of travelling around 27,000 miles to training and matches each season and being away from home two nights a week and most Sundays too great a burden” and that is the reason for him standing down.
Stags’ chairman Brown added: “Troy’s professionalism and commitment to the Hemel Stags ethos throughout his long stay with the club has been outstanding.
“He has been one of the heroes of rugby league in the south of England.”
Thoughts now turn to who will take over as the new head man, with big shoes to fill.
The club said it would make an announcement next week on the new coaching set-up for 2018 and also on changes to the club’s training base and administrative set-ups.
The Stags finished the 2017 campaign on September 10 with a 60-16 loss at home to Hunslet and finished bottom of League 1 with just a single win all season.