Cartwright, Searle quit club they built
The foundation coach and the man who was behind the franchise coming into existence have both decided to walk away from the club that they helped to build on the most sensational day in the short history of the Gold Coast Titans.
Foundation coach John Cartwright tendered his mutually-agreed resignation on Tuesday morning after seeking clarification of his future at the club while managing director Michael Searle stood down from his position as a director last week and role as administrator, head of football, effective from the end of the season.
Cartwright will continue to oversee the preparations for Monday night's clash with the Roosters in Sydney after which assistant coach Neil Henry will step forward and take the role as interim coach, the former Cowboys mentor favourite to be named head coach after a process that CEO Graham Annesley said would start immediately and not expect to take long.
Cartwright had signed a five-year extension to coach the Titans months before they collected the wooden spoon in 2011 but decided to leave his post with two years still to run.
"We had enormous success to kick the club off, probably achieved that a lot earlier than a lot of people would have thought and the last four years we've under-achieved and at the end of the day that responsibility comes back to me," Cartwright said.
"I thought I'd just front Darryl [Kelly, Titans shareholder and board member] and get some thoughts on what he and the board were thinking and we decided mutually that it was time.
"I do want what's best for the club, that goes without saying. There were things that both parties had to consider but the bottom line was I just wanted some clarification over the next five weeks.
"I really wanted to be involved in the game this weekend and hopefully that keeps us alive for the semi-finals. I think that's very important coming into a home game against Manly, that we're still alive coming into the semi-finals."
Despite the failure of previous premiership franchises on the Gold Coast, there were encouraging signs early for the Titans with the club winning 10 games in each of its first two seasons and then finishing in the top four in both 2009 and 2010.
But just as the club had begun to take a foothold in the local community the fledgling franchise was rocked by a multi-million dollar legal dispute surrounding the controversial Centre of Excellence at Robina and plummeted to finish last in 2011 and has failed to qualify for the finals in the two subsequent seasons.
"This is a very sad and defining day for the Titans. Without the work of Michael Searle and John Cartwright quite frankly we wouldn't have the Gold Coast Titans," said Titans chairman Rebecca Frizelle.
"We all must pay them the respect that they deserve for what they have contributed to the Gold Coast community and to the club. As a sponsor and chairman, I'm very proud to be associated with the both of them and I'm very sad to see them leaving."
Annesley said that the decisions by both Searle and Cartwright to step aside were made so that the club could have a prosperous future and free of any baggage that may have been accumulated in the past.
"Michael felt that his ongoing presence was a diversion that was having an impact on the club and as someone who was instrumental in the formation of this club he wanted to make sure that this club had the best possible chance for the future," Annesley said.
Cartwright will remain at the Titans in a non-football capacity but didn't rule out taking on a head coaching role in the future.
"We live in a very funny world now. If we'd won another two games through the year, maybe I wouldn't be sitting here," he said philosophically. "That's pretty much what it can come down to.
"It's a very tough position that you're in and it's not only you, it's your family...
"The world's changing. It's a strange place now compared to when I grew up. A win and a loss can define your season and success or failure, that's what it's going to come down to.
"I don't like a lot of things that go around [being a head coach] but I do love doing it but probably just time to let the dust settle and re-evaluate what I want to do. I certainly want to help the club moving forward in some sort of other role.
"This is my home now, I've made it my home, I love the club, I love what it stands for, I love what it does and if at all possible I would be here for as long as I could be."