Vanarama National League South club Wealdstone have moved quickly to replace Gordon Bartlett by naming former Hungerford Town manager Bobby Wilkinson as his successor.

Wilkinson put pen-to-paper on a deal to take over as Stones manager, just days after ending his eight-year stay with the Crusaders.

During his time at Bulpit Lane, Wilkinson led the club to two promotions and they finished in sixth place in the National League South last season.

However, they were denied a place in the play-offs by a failure to meet ground-grading regulations.

Wilkinson has been seen as one of the most highly-rated young managers in the non-league game and had been linked with roles higher up the league pyramid.

Speaking to the Stones website, Wilkinson described himself as “incredibly excited” by his new role and he paid tribute to his successor.

He said “I am incredibly excited to be coming to Wealdstone. Can I say straightaway that this is going to be about togetherness, passion and the future – all things I know the Stones fans are about. I have had a fantastic time at Hungerford but we are coming to Wealdstone to give it our all and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead and to put a smile on faces.

“I know it will take time but we need to make improvements, especially with our home form. We need to see fire and drive and we will work very hard with the lads to do this. I have met some great people at the club already and it is a great honour for me to sign a contract at this club – this is a very happy day for me.

“May I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Gordon Bartlett who has done such a fantastic job at Wealdstone over so many years. I am really pleased he is staying and I will certainly be seeking his help and advice.”

Stones chairman Peter Mardsen revealed why they had chosen Wilkinson as their new boss.

He said “Once we identified a need for a new manager for Wealdstone FC the identikit person would be someone who is young, ambitious and with a track record of success. We did not want a manager coming to the end of his managerial career or a ‘name’ that knows nothing about non-league football. Throw in to the mix an understanding of what is needed to be challenging for promotion in this very highly physical league. That man is Bobby Wilkinson.

“What Bobby has done to put Hungerford a town of 6,000 on the footballing map (and I think they were desperately unlucky not to make the play-offs) is nothing short of sensational. Bobby has in the past been courted by a number of other clubs in our league and I am delighted he has pinpointed Wealdstone as a club that has the ambitions to match his own.

“Take it from me Bobby is motivation personified. He is, as our supporters will soon find out, a great communicator both with players and supporters. Myself and the rest of the Board look forward immensely to working with him”

Wilkinson will host an open training session on Thursday evening and takes charge of his new side for the first time when they travel to Eastbourne Borough on Saturday.

Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)

Image: Wealdstone FC

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