DEPARTING Brightlingsea Regent manager James Webster has admitted being "devastated" to leave - but feels the time is right for a fresh challenge after being unveiled as the new Aveley boss.

The long-serving R’s chief took charge for the last time in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory against Kingstonian.

He was appointed in 2010, following a year with the club's reserves, and has taken the R’s on a phenomenal journey, from the Essex and Suffolk Border League to the Bostik League premier division – winning last season’s division north title by an extraordinary 14 points.

"In many ways, I'm devastated to be leaving," Webster told the Gazette.

"I've had so many good times here and enjoyed a lot of success over the last eight years.

"It's the end of an era and I'll miss it terribly, but perhaps I've taken the club as far as I can.

"I feel the time is right to step down and take on a fresh challenge.

"People might question why I'm taking a step down and I understand that.

"I'd probably think the same if someone else was making the same move.

"However, I have my reasons and I honestly see it as taking one step back to take two forward.

"Aveley have fantastic new facilities - the best I've ever seen in non-league football - and so much ambition.

"They sold the club to me, when I met them, and I definitely see it as a long-term project.

"I was so impressed and when they offered me the job straight away, I just knew I had to take it.

"It's taking some time to get my head round and I'm so sad, but I honestly believe I'm doing the right thing."

Webster has masterminded four promotions in seven seasons, steering the club from step seven of the non-league pyramid to step three.

He celebrated 400 games in charge in the August Bank Holiday victory at Needham Market.

Assistant manager Chris Smith is following Webster to Aveley.

Head coach Ryan Salter will now take over in a caretaker capacity at the Taydal Stadium and be in the hot-seat for Saturday's home match against Tooting and Mitcham United.

A Regent statement said: “The club would like to thank James for his efforts over the last eight years, which have been glittered with success.”

A statement on the Aveley website said: “We would like to wish James and his team a long and successful relationship with our club.

“The club wishes to thank all the candidates that applied for the role. We were overwhelmed with the response.”