FC CLACTON manager Tom Austin admits the departure of assistant boss Adrian Webster is a "massive loss" for the Seasiders.

The vastly-experienced former Colchester United player and coach is stepping down for personal reasons after helping the coastal club to a best-ever sixth-place finish in the Thurlow Nunn League.

It was a record-breaking premier division campaign and while bitterly disappointed to see Webster leave, Austin has moved quickly to replace him with former Brightlingsea Regent head coach Ryan Salter.

Salter will again operate under the title head coach, rather than assistant manager.

"Losing Ade is a massive blow, without doubt," Austin told the Gazette.

"He was a big part of everything we achieved last season - a huge part of the club - and someone I learnt an awful lot from.

"He helped no end and from my point of view, as a young manager, it was so nice having someone to confide in and bounce ideas around with. I'm indebted to him.

"The lads loved him, too, and he brought so much to the dressing room, in terms of his coaching and the things he said.

"He'll be sorely missed."

Webster played his part in the famous United States soccer revolution of the Seventies, when the star-studded North American Soccer League was in its pomp and paved the way for the sport’s rise in popularity in the States.

His illustrious career saw him rub shoulders with the likes of Pele, George Best and Bobby Moore.

After nearly 20 years in the States, Webster returned to Essex in 1991 and linked up with former club Colchester, undertaking several roles including Centre of Excellence Manager and within the youth set-up, at Layer Road.

He spent a decade working at the Colne Academy, in Brightlingsea, before being tempted out of retirement by former Colne student Austin.

The Brightlingsea connection has now continued with Salter being appointed at the Bowl.

Salter played a key part in Regent's rise through the divisions, working under manager James Webster, who he later followed to Aveley.

"Ryan won this league and the league above with Brightlingsea," said Austin.

"He's operated in the Bostik League premier division and spent time at step four with Aveley.

"So he knows what's needed to be a success at this level.

"He's thorough, well-prepared, pays attention to detail and has plenty of contacts.

"I know from our first couple of chats that he's going to help set high standards and I'm confident he's going to be an excellent head coach."

Jack Clampin, Zach Smith-Walter, Harry McDonald and Karl Andrade were among the prize-winners when Clacton held their end-of-season awards night on Saturday.

The team are now looking forward to a well-earned break before returning for pre-season training on June 15.