In: Wingate name Arsenal hero Hayes as new boss.
Out: Stone leaves to take a step-up at Rushden & Diamonds.
Former Arsenal favourite Martin Hayes has replaced Michael Stone as manager of Wingate & Finchley after he joined ambitious Blue Square Premier outfit Rushden & Diamonds.
Hayes arrives with an impressive pedigree as a player, having won League Championships with both
Arsenal and Celtic and representing England at Under 21 level.
He was recently in charge of Bishop’s Stortford who he guided to the Blue Square South. Hayes also oversaw the 3-2 win over Wingate & Finchley in September.
Wingate chairman Aron Sharpe commented: “Martin’s appointment is a demonstration of the ambition of the club and the type of candidate we require for the manager’s position. After reviewing a number of candidates, we felt Martin was the right choice at the right time.
“He will bring continuity and stability to the club, along with his wealth of tactical knowledge as a manager at the higher levels of non-league football. As a player he won the highest honour in English football.”
Caretaker manager Ben Winston, who was in charge for Tuesday 1-0 win over Ilford, will remain at the club as will the rest of the coaching staff.
Stone’s move to Rushden is a reflection of the growing reputation he has earned in the game. Having worked at Nottingham Forest, Spurs and with the South Korea national team, he announced his departure after Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat against Concord Rangers with the Abrahams Stadium outfit lying eighth in the Ryman League Division One North, having recorded 13 wins in 27 this season.
Stone said: “It was a very difficult decision as the call came completely out of the blue. The option to wait and join Rushden in the summer was not there. I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss so grabbed it.
“In my four years with Wingate, it’s been a great learning curve as coach and manager. The chairman was extremely supportive. I doubt there’ll be many better manager/chairman relationships across the country.”
Having claimed one manager of the month accolade, steered the team to an 18-match unbeaten run and good runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, Stone is unsure whether or not he’ll be able to carry out his commitments as coach of the Great Britain Maccabiah Open football team in July.
“I feel I’ve left the club in a very good shape and in a strong position, challenging for the playoffs,” said Stone. “I think the new manager will be very impressed with what he finds.
“My aspirations are to return to management in my own right. It will really give me a chance to develop and test myself as this is a very big club that really should be in the Football League.”
Joining the Diamonds, initially until the end of the season, Stone will act as assistant to current caretaker-manager, former Spurs defender Justin Edinburgh with whom he worked with at the youth academy at White Hart Lane for several years. The pair made a winning start with a 2-0 win over York.
Sharpe said: “I’m really pleased for him. I have no right to hold him back as Wingate is a stepping stone to better things. This is a massive tick in the right box that we can produce a candidate for a job of that stature.”
Sharpe, formerly a youth team player at Spurs, said: “Michael is a tremendous coach, and he goes with my blessing. The next step is to produce another coach of his calibre.”