BLYTH SPARTANS boss Tom Wade has stepped down as manager of his hometown club and has been replaced by former Middlesbrough striker Alun Armstrong.
This season has been a positive one for the Spartans so far, winning six of their nine Evo-Stik NPL Premier games to sit second in the table behind Buxton.
The Spartans had led the division for the majority of last season before slipping up at the final hurdle to allow Darlington 1883 to snatch the title.
They then fell to Workington in the play-off semi-finals, with Wade saying after that game that he was unsure about his future. He remained at the club but has now decided to step down with Blyth sitting pretty in second.
He will stay on at the club while his replacement Armstrong, the former Newcastle United, Stockport County, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town forward, gets to grips with the job.
Wade was persuaded to take charge of the club he supported four years ago and as well as almost leading them back to Step 2, he also took them to the FA Cup third round in 2015 where they narrowly lost to Championship club Birmingham City.
Spartans chairman Tony Platten said: “It is usual for managers to leave clubs when there are problems on the pitch, in terms of results. However, here at Blyth, we do it in a different way.
“Tom was very happy with the way things were working out on the pitch, but felt he had taken the club as far as he could and that – under the circumstances – a change was required. A unique opportunity then arose to bring to the club a new person with fresh ideas and drive and he jumped at the chance.
“After several unbelievably successful seasons at the club, including reaching the third round of the FA Cup and then being top of the league for the vast majority of last season – only to cruelly miss out on promotion – it would be normal for a manager to bask in the glory. Not Tom though, who has steered us to the top end of the league table already this time round.
“Tom, who was born and bred in Blyth and has always put the club first, identified the possibility of taking the club to a new level by bringing in the highly regarded Alun Armstrong.
“After discussions, Alun decided that he wanted his future in football to be in club management and quickly decided to resign from his job at Middlesbrough FC to take over the management role of possibly the most famous Non-League club in the world. Alun will be on a one-year contract, with another year’s option”
Armstrong added: “I can’t wait to get started. It’s a very exciting challenge for me and my main aim is to win promotion – after we so narrowly missed out on it last season.
“I’m used to challenges, from becoming a professional footballer to now running my own business and coaching at Middlesbrough. Becoming manager at a club like Blyth Spartans is something really special.”