JIM Lambert says that he always tried to do his best for football in Herefordshire, despite some of his decisions not being universally liked.

As reported by the Hereford Times last week, Lambert has decided to step down as chief executive of the Herefordshire Football Association, although he will remain as financial director on a part-time basis.

The new chief executive is Jonny Walker, who stepped into the position this week.

"Very few people have the opportunity to be employed in a job that is their passion and for that and the support I have received over the years from the directors of the HFA I am exceedingly grateful," said Lambert.

"Whilst accepting that not everything I did was universally liked I have always given my all and tried to do my best for football in this county.

"I decided that the time is right to take a step back from the non-stop pressure that comes from the FA for statistics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

"Over the previous nine months, I had a major health scare and, although that has hopefully been overcome, it did take a lot out of me.

"So after reaching the age of 65 in November, it seemed an ideal time to consider both my own future and the succession planning for the County Association.

"My new role will take the finance and fixtures out of the CEO role which to a great extent will take my involvement back to where it began 20 years ago.

"The HFA is no longer a group of clubs administered by volunteers in their spare time but has become a business and has to be run accordingly.

"That is no criticism of the volunteers, which I am pleased to say I was one from 1974, but now the game has moved on.

"Because I started as a club secretary in 1974 I still appreciate the workload that volunteers take on from putting up nets, laundry and, the job that now appears the hardest of all, which is to persuade players to turn up.

"I realised I was never going to be a ‘star’ footballer but had a passion for the game so took up refereeing which provided me with 40 years of enjoyment on the field.

"I had decided that I wanted to be involved in running football and unsuccessfully applied for the job of county secretary in 1978 before achieving my goal of in 1997.

"And over the years I have been a member of the HFA, served as referees appointments secretary and secretary for the Herefordshire Football League (HFL) and served on the Sunday League where I became a life member."

Lambert says there have been huge changes that have taken place at the HFA, with the business style change starting as far back as 20 years ago when it became the first county to become 'a company limited by guarantee'.

"The change from working on the dining room table to running a company with its own offices and 10 staff has been immense," said Lambert.

"The planning and financing of these changes has been an uphill battle at times but the result has left me with a feeling of satisfaction.

"Throughout my tenure, and a trait I shall retain in my new role, is that of prudence when it comes to the finances of the Association.

The Association has for many years vision to look for a partner to provide another all-weather facility that they could run for the benefit of the community.

"The reluctance to spend when not necessary has ensured that the Association has the capital to invest in the future when appropriate.

"It would be so easy to look back and lament ‘the good old days’.

"Yes, some things were better but so many more have improved dramatically.

"The standard of football being played and the wonderful referees we had are fondly remembered."

However, Lambert concedes that grassroots football is struggling, not just locally but nationally too, and he is unsure what the future holds for the beautiful game.

"There is a completely new lifestyle evolving which has, and will have, massive effects on football in the country at large and no less so in Herefordshire," he said.

"The pace of life has meant that far fewer people are prepared to commit to anything long term.

"Volunteers are, and always have been, the most important individuals in football – without them the game will suffer long term.

"There is certainly a trend against playing the traditional 11v11 game over a nine month season but I am confident that the development team will be able to provide a far wider range of football offerings that provide an opportunity for many more to get their ‘football fix’."