Gordon Bartlett has stepped down as manager of Wealdstone FC after 22 years and taken on a new role at the club.
London-born Bartlett, 61, had a short career as a player in the 1970s, making a handful of appearances for Portsmouth, Denver Dymamos, Slough Town and Brentford before his career was cut short by injury.
Turning instead to management, Bartlett led Southall to the FA Vase final in 1985 before winning the tournament with Yeading five years later following a spell in charge of Hounslow.
But it was with Wealdstone, where he was appointed in 1995, that he truly made his mark, leading the Stones from Isthmian League Division Three to National League South.
But expectations at Grosvenor Vale have risen in recent times, and the Stones are currently struggling in 18 place five games into the new season – and after amicable discussions with the club chairman Peter Marsden and the rest of the board, Bartlett has agreed to take on a new role which focuses on youth development and football in the community rather than the first team.
Marsden said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Gordon Bartlett for his 22 years at the helm of Wealdstone Football Club. Often working in trying conditions which would have confounded lesser managers, Gordon has been pivotal in the club re-establishing itself as a force in the non-league game. He is quite simply a Wealdstone Legend.
‘Having worked closely with Gordon for this last 12 months I have come to regard him as a good friend and I have seen at first hand his encyclopaedic knowledge, breadth of contacts and above all else his love of the game. In many ways, what Gordon does not know about football is not worth knowing.
‘I am pretty confident that as the season develops (and as some of our players return from injury) under Gordon our form would have picked up quite nicely but, such is the level of expectation at Wealdstone that we need to be either be in or close to the leading pack from the very start if we are to fulfil our destiny.
‘Results drive almost everything that happens at a football club, the way we feel about ourselves and the way we are perceived by others. It drives our income streams and our ability to attract fresh investment.
‘Gordon and I have talked several times about ''when the time was right' him making the next stage of his Wealdstone journey. This is a multi-faceted role which includes looking for and developing young footballing talent, helping the club raise its profile locally and nationally and being an ambassador for the club. As the club continues to grow, so too will the breadth of this role.”
Bartlett will also be on hand to share his wealth of experience with the Stones' new managwer when he is announced in due course.
He said: “This is undoubtedly a very tough decision. The dynamics of this football club have changed dramatically since Peter’s arrival. We are in an ambitious era with the club with a significant financial increase and we have simply failed to meet expectations on the field.
“Following last weekend, Peter and I have sat down and agreed it isn’t working, so it’s time for a change and unfortunately the buck stops with me. Despite my huge disappointment to step aside after 22 years, I genuinely believe that the club will benefit from a new approach and a fresh start is what it craves.
“I have become increasingly frustrated and I can honestly say I have not been managing with a smile on my face recently. In the past, we have overcome some very difficult times and remained upbeat and with the help of many others, always managed to steer the ship to calmer waters.
“I am a positive person by nature and last seasons so called ‘crisis’ proved a point, when despite the doom and gloom merchants, we finished the season with one defeat in our last 20 games.
“This pre-season had been encouraging and the majority of performances have seen us better than the opposition, but it’s a results business and they haven’t been good enough. Sometimes you need to be a lucky manager and that certainly cannot be said for the numerous things that have occurred this season, so when you add everything up, the time is right!
‘Looking back, I have a huge amount of pride on the success and progress we have made since my arrival in 1995. I move on with some brilliant memories and the knowledge the club is in a far better place than when I took over. This is a unique football club which has been a privilege to manage over the years and I must acknowledge the fans for their hard graft, passion and undying support in throughout my time.
“My ambition was to take the club back to the top of non-league football and although we may have finished one short of the objective, I can’t really say I haven’t had a fair crack at it. Impossible to mention you all by name but I my thanks go to everyone behind the scenes, the board for their loyalty, but, in particular, I must express my enormous gratitude to all the management, coaches and players who have shared and contributed to making this such an incredible and enjoyable roller coaster of a journey.
‘My immediate problem is that I am addicted to football, so this weekend will certainly feel strange, as for the first time in 33 years, I will not be managing. However, after taking a little break to reflect, I can look forward to Peter’s offer of starting a new challenge in trying to help the club continue their pursuit of National League football.
‘Finally, I would like to wish my successor the very best of luck and I will do anything in my power to help him bring the success this club desires and I hope this includes many of the current personnel. Thank you once again to each and every one of you for all for your valued support.”