North West Counties First Division North
Simon Armstrong has left a massive legacy from his time as Ilkley Town first team manager, according to his successor Sam Dexter.
Armstrong remains heavily involved with the club off-the-field but has ended his ten-year stint in the dugout which accumulated in their rise into Non League Football for the first time this year.
Ilkley were in Division One of the West Yorkshire League when Armstrong first took charge and Dexter, who was his assistant, hailed his work.
“He told me after training last week that he was stepping down,” Dexter told Non League Yorkshire.
“I was shocked and I was disappointed and I tried everything to persuade him to stay.
“But he was adamant that it was the right decision and when he gave me his reasons I understood them and we have to respect them.
“Him and (coach) Dave Houlston have basically built the senior section and made it what it is today.
“You can make of that what you want.
“Even before we turned semi-professional at the start of this season we already had a fantastic infrastructure in place with the under 23s, the reserves and the first team
“That was as an amateur club.
“I may be wrong but I don’t know of any amateur club who had that at the time.
“He has an unbelievable legacy and it is something he should be very proud of.”
Dexter, also the club’s full-time football development officer, says he plans to carry on Armstrong’s legacy.
“It is an extremely proud moment,” he said.
“It hasn’t really sunk in.
“The last week has been a whirlwind and everything has happened really fast.
“It is a fantastic opportunity.
“I have been doing the under 23s for the last four years so it is the natural step.
“I’m excited and looking forward to it.
“The main reason why I wanted to take the job was because I wanted to keep this group of players together.
“I’m 100% invested in the job and I’ll do the best I can.
“But I didn’t want to step down with Simon and there be a new manager come in and bring in four or five new faces he knows he can trust.
“The playing philosophy would change and the group that have worked so hard with to get us where we are would be cast aside.
“I didn’t want that to happen.
“I wanted this group to see out the season together because I think they deserve the opportunity.”
Dexter does have a big job on his hands as Ilkley lie third bottom in a very competitive Division which sees only eight points separate them and seventh-placed Nelson.
Where he wants to see improvements is with the away form.
Ilkley, who go to fourth-bottom Atherton LR tomorrow, have only won once on the road this season.
“When you look at the table, it is so tight,” he said.
“Even up to 11th and tenth you’re looking over your shoulder.
“I’ve spoken to the players and nothing is going to change.
“The pinnacles of how we play and the standards we have set, nothing will change.
“Dave Houlston, Simon and myself have developed that over many years.
“Simon was the main architect behind it but from a coaching and tactical point of view, I’d say myself, Dave and Simon are 95% the same person.
“That has contributed to the climb of the club and where the first team is at the minute.
“Nothing from a playing perspective will change.
“I think the obvious stand-out thing at the moment is the fact our away results have not been good enough.
“That needs to change and we’ll be looking to change that.”