Nothing lasts forever in life - even less-so in football - but the longest-serving manager in English professional football is no more with Wealdstone manager Gordon Bartlett stepping down from his post after 22 years at the helm.

The club confirmed his move upstairs - to a yet-to-be-defined new role - in a comprehensive and moving press release this evening.

Bartlett departs after Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Chelmsford left the Stones outside the National League South relegation zone on goal difference with four points from their opening five games.

Chairman Peter Marsden, who took over the running of the club last year, paid tribute to the man he has known for only a brief period of his managerial spell, but one who he said had already become a friend.

He said: "On behalf of the board I would like to thank Gordon Bartlett for his 22 years at the helm of Wealdstone Football Club in which he has guided the club from the third division of the Isthmian League to play-off spot contenders in National League South.

"Often working in trying conditions which would have confounded lesser managers Gordon has been pivotal in the club re-establishing itself as a force in the non-league game. He is quite simply a Wealdstone legend.

"I am pretty confident that as the season develops, and as some of our players return from injury, under Gordon our form would have picked him quite nicely.

"But such is the level of expectation at Wealdstone - as manifest in our average attendances now approaching the 1,000 mark including over 500 season ticket holders - that we need to be either in or close to the leading pack from the very start if we are to fulfil our destiny."

Bartlett, who took on the managerial reigns back in June 1995, took the club on a whirlwind two-decade rise from the Isthmian Third Division, the ninth tier of English football, to its most-recent reckoning as play-off contenders in the Conference South.

They spent the first 13 years under his tenure without a home ground, sharing with other London clubs before finally moving to Grosvenor Vale in 2008.

But he still guided them to promotion in only his second season in 1997, before sensationally making it back-to-back the next campaign.

And after 16 years fighting to get out of the seventh tier, they were promoted to the National League South in 2014, securing two mid-table finishes before reaching eighth last season.

Bartlett said: “This is undoubtedly a very tough decision. The dynamics of this football club have changed dramatically since Peter’s arrival.

"We are in an ambitious era with the club with a significant financial increase and we have simply failed to meet expectations on the field.

"Following last weekend, Peter and I have sat down and agreed it isn’t working, so it’s time for a change and unfortunately the buck stops with me. 

"Looking back, I have a huge amount of pride on the success and progress we have made since my arrival in 1995.  I move on with some brilliant memories and the knowledge the club is in a far better place than when I took over.

"This is a unique football club which has been a privilege to manage over the years and I must acknowledge the fans for their hard graft, passion and undying support in throughout my time.

"My ambition was to take the club back to the top of non-league football and although we may have finished one short of the objective, I can’t really say I haven’t had a fair crack at it."