WORK commitments have forced James Hawes to quit Billericay Town.
The left-back says he's 'devastated' at having to walk away from New Lodge just as the Blues are set to embark on their first season in Blue Square Bet South.
He's now set to join Steve Tilson's Canvey Island, citing the increased travelling in a higher league as the major reason behind his switch.
"It's a lot of commitment with the travelling. It's a lot harder than it was before," the primary school teacher told the Gazette.
"Trying to get to Tuesday night games it's that bit further away and I won't be able to just leave my job and get there and if another boy comes in and does well then I could be out the team for a few games and I just want to play football and enjoy it.
"It's actually quite devastating to leave with the club in this position but Craig (Edwards) understands."
Hawes, 27, joined Town last season from Concord Rangers having previously had a spells at Sutton United and five years at Braintree Town. Last season he was a mainstay of the first XI and played 35 games in all competitions as Billericay won the Ryman League Premier Division. He says it was the team's unbelievable spirit that helped them to promotion.
"It was fantastic," he said.
"All the boys were brilliant and everyone was together and that was another little attribute we had to win the league – if you don't have team spirit then it's hard to win the league."
Despite having to struggle along on a smaller budget than most teams in the division and with the uncertainty of the club being up for sale, Hawes still thinks his former team-mates can make a big impression in the second tier of non-league football.
"Craig has done really well for me and really well at Billericay," he said.
"I'm sure he'll do well this season as well. He'll get some new players in and take the league, hopefully, by storm.
"Everyone is writing them off but they can get to the play-offs easily. They'll do fantastically. I'm sure they'll hit the play-offs."