KENNY Rafferty and Darren Smith insisted football had nothing to do with their decision to leave Tranent Juniors this week.

The pair’s departure was confirmed by the club on Monday, 48 hours after a third-round Scottish Junior Cup defeat to Jeanfield Swifts at Foresters Park. 

Rafferty, 39, told Courier Sport that their reasons for leaving were “nothing to do with football”.

He said: “It’s absolutely nothing to do with football – we’re both gutted that we had to leave. I don’t want to go into it because I’ve the utmost respect for the club but something happened and we just felt that wasn’t the way things should be done, so we resigned.”

And Smith, pictured below in action against Haddington Athletic earlier this month - one of his final Tranent outings - said: “We just felt our position had become untenable.”

East Lothian Courier:

It is almost a year since the pair were placed in interim charge following the departure of Gary Small. They were then permanently appointed in February.

They enjoyed historic cup success last season, guiding the Belters to a cup double as they lifted the Fife & Lothians Cup and the East of Scotland Cup – their first cup successes in four decades.

The team’s form has dipped somewhat this season, with the club eighth in the East Premier League with five wins from their 14 outings, and out of the Scottish Junior Cup. 

They are, though, still in the mix to defend both the trophies they lifted last season, and Rafferty, pictured below by Bill Wishart celebrating cup semi-final victory over Dundee North End last season, wished the club well.

He said: “It’s a fantastic set-up and I wish them all the best. 

“Tranent have been great with Daz and I since we took over and we didn’t want to leave, but we felt that we had to.”

East Lothian Courier:

A statement on the club’s Facebook page on Monday afternoon confirmed the duo had left, bringing to an end midfielder Smith’s two-and-a-half years with his hometown club.

He joined after helping Musselburgh Athletic to the Scottish Junior Cup final in 2015 and had delayed his playing retirement to combine his managerial commitments with a role in the Belters’ central midfield.

The statement read: “It is with regret that we announce the resignation of Kenny Rafferty and Darren Smith as managers of the club.

“The club would like to thank them for their huge contribution in bringing home both cups last year, which was a truly incredible achievement, not forgetting Darren’s contribution as a massive part of the playing staff over the past two-and-a-half years.”

Rafferty added: “We had started planning for next year, looking at players and deciding who we wanted to keep.

“A few people have said, ‘I can’t believe you’ve chucked it’ but it’s absolutely nothing to do with the fact we’re mid-table and out the Scottish [Junior Cup].

"We would’ve loved to have stayed. I don’t know what I’ll do now – I’ll probably go and coach some kids’ teams, that’s what I did before I was at Tranent.

“I’m in no rush to get back into it, I just wish the club all the best. If a local job came up and it was the right job for me then I’d definitely be interested.”

Smith, 38, added: “We’ve definitely left the club in a better place than when we were appointed.I want to stay involved, so I’ll just see what comes up, whether that’s playing or coaching.”

The pair did not rule out re-uniting at another club in future.

Meanwhile, the Belters have announced Ian Little will be in temporary charge of the side until a permanent appointment is made.

He has taken training this week, and will be in the dugout for Saturday's clash at Dalkeith.