Gateshead have announced the appointment of Ben Clark as first-team manager on a permanent basis.

This comes following Steve Watson’s departure as manager to join National League North side York City last week. Clark was initially set to take charge of first-team duties in preparation for Saturday’s match at Salford City but was quickly appointed as Watson’s replacement.

Assistant manager Micky Cummins’ switch to York also means Clark has named Gateshead’s strength and conditioning coach Ian Watson as his assistant. The 33-year-old left-back’s appointment as assistant means his playing contract at Blyth Spartans has come to an end with immediate effect.

Former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson, who signed for the club earlier this season, is to be part of the staff as player/coach.

Former Heed captain Clark made 280 appearances for the club over six-years at the International Stadium, leading the side out at Wembley Stadium in 2014, and has continued to play an active role as a coach since his formal retirement in 2016. The 35-year-old has been heavily involved in the club’s expanding community programme as well as taking charge of the Tynesiders’ reserve (formerly under-19s) side for the past season and a half.

The ex-Sunderland and Hartlepool United defender has overseen and assisted the development of several youth players into the Gateshead first team, including Jon Mellish, Tom White, Elliot Forbes and Lewis McGeoch. Clark was also a surprise inclusion in the Heed’s first-team squad against Maidenhead as several injuries saw him named on the bench shortly before his appointment as manager.

Clark and Watson will be giving their first interviews as Gateshead’s new managerial team after training on Tuesday 15 January.

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