CRAIG Davidson says he and Steve Tilson were “shocked” to be released by Canvey Island and felt they had been “betrayed” by the club.

The former Gulls defender said he and fellow Canvey legend Tilson were looking forward to leading the team again next season, and that they disagree strongly with the reasons given by the club for their release last week.

Davidson said the pair were under the impression they had been summoned to a meeting on Thursday to discuss objectives for next season, so were shocked when the board revealed they were being let go.

“We were totally shocked by what happened, we just never saw it coming; we just feel so angry and betrayed by the club and we do not agree with the reasons they gave us for making the change,” he said.

Davidson was not at that meeting because of a work commitment but said ex-Southend United manager Tilson was told the reasons for the decision were that the team had under-performed, there was a lack of team spirit, and that they had not worked closely enough with the reserve team or Academy set-up.

Under Tilson and assistant manager Davidson, Canvey finished eighth in the Ryman Premier this season and six points outside the play-off places.

Davidson said he did not understand how they could have been judged to be under-performing because when they were appointed last summer they were told they had a “middle-road budget and there were no expectations, no ambitions and no targets”.

He said: “Because of Steve’s time at the club and professional background, and my nine years there and that history, they were just glad to have us back, so it felt great and that there was loyalty there.”

Davidson said he felt the progress made by local rivals Concord Rangers in winning promotion to the Conference South this season had probably brought into sharper focus the disappointment in Canvey missing out on a top-five spot.

But he said there was no problem with team spirit and that they had received text messages from several of the senior players in the wake of their departures saying how much they had enjoyed working under them.

And he said it was a year when the Academy players had had more involvement with the first team than in any other season, but that it was decided they were not physically ready to play regularly for a senior side competing towards the top end of the table.

He said there was also a consensus at the club that there were no reserve team players pushing for a place in the first-team squad.

Davidson said: “I just feel so hurt by what has happened. I have been with the club so long. I was there for the success under Jeff (King), I was captain under John (Batch), and I’d been involved with the coaching. So I just can’t believe what has happened here.”

Davidson stressed their was no “sour grapes” towards new Canvey boss Danny Heale and wished him every success after he made the step up from first-team striker to manager last week.