FC CLACTON boss Tom Austin insists there are no hard feelings after striker Adam Hampson agreed to join Brightlingsea Regent.

The former Stanway Rovers and Wivenhoe Town front man is stepping up two levels and made his decision on Tuesday.

It is a major blow for the Seasiders as Hampson’s 22 goals were a key ingredient during last season’s record-breaking Thurlow Nunn League campaign.

Clacton finished sixth in the premier division - their best-ever finish - and Austin had nothing but praise for Hampson’s contribution.

“I’m disappointed, of course, but wish Hampy the very best of luck at Brightlingsea,” he told the Gazette.

“He was absolutely brilliant for us last season and deserves this opportunity at step three level (Isthmian League premier division). I’m pleased for him and genuinely hope it goes well.

“It’s a great chance for him.

“Hampy and I have known each other for years.

“We’ve got a great relationship and there are no hard feelings whatsoever.

“I’d never stand in a player’s way if they got an opportunity to better themselves and further their career.

“He’s a great player with a very professional attitude.

“He’s got all the qualities any manager would want.”

Austin praised Regent counterpart Tom Rothery for the “respectful” way he signed Hampson.

“Brightlingsea have done everything the right way,” he said.

“Tom messaged me first and was very respectful about approaching one of my players, unlike other managers who think it’s alright to go straight to the player.

“It’s a big loss from out point of view but no surprise that other teams are looking at our players.

“It’s a reflection of what we achieved last season.”

Regent boss Rothery was delighted to sign a player with Hampson’s qualities.

“Hampy’s an excellent player and his intensity, pace, quality and general energy will be a great addition in the final third for us,” he said.

“He’s a goalscorer and somebody I think will be superb for us, linking up well with players like Billy Hunt.”

Clacton had been due to visit Harwich and Parkeston in their opening friendly next Tuesday.

The Shrimpers cancelled the game but another fixture has been teed up at West Bergholt (kick-off 7pm).

Meanwhile, the draw for the first round of the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup has handed Clacton a trip to Little Oakley.

The match must be played before the end of August.