STEVE Richardson has brought down the curtain on a career as manager, coach and player at Basingstoke Town this week by announcing he is to join his former boss Francis Vines at local rivals Farnborough.

Richardson - who last weekend steered Town to glory against Farnborough in the final of the Hampshire Senior Cup - has accepted the post of assistant-manager to Vines, who this week took charge at Cherrywood Road.

To honour Richardson's 13 years at the Camrose, Basingstoke Town will be holding a testimonial for one of the most popular players to have worn a Town shirt in recent decades.

The 46-year-old took over as caretaker-manager when Vines quit in March. Although the team failed to win a league game under him, Richardson guided the team to its first trophy triumph for 11 years last Saturday - a win that provided a fitting finalé for him.

The former Reading star had previously said he did not want the Basingstoke hot seat permanently and, with the appointment of new manager Frank Gray and his long-time assistant Gerry Murphy, he felt it was time to move on.

Richardson said: "I was offered another coaching post at the club, but I wanted to remain at the same level I was before Francis left and that is why I have joined Farnborough.

"I have had some great times at Basingstoke in my 13 years.

"I won the Hampshire Senior Cup twice as a player and then as a manager, which was a great way to go out.

"I will always remember those great FA Cup nights against Wycombe and Northampton and then, in 2006, making the second round as assistant to Francis."

Rafi Razzak, chairman and president of the club, paid a glowing tribute to the departing Richardson.

He said: "I am very grateful to Steve for the dedication, loyalty and professionalism he has brought to the club. It was nice for him to be able to say goodbye by winning a trophy - our first in 11 years.

"It is going to be strange without him being around. We are having a testimonial for him as a way of saying thank you for all his years of service to the club, and I wish him well at Farnborough."

Richardson is delighted to be awarded a testimonial by the club, and said: "I have left on good terms. The testimonial is a nice gesture from the club and I look forward to a great evening."

Richardson, who is now focusing on his new challenge, said: "Farnborough have had a great year this season, winning the league, and the pressure will be on us to deliver again. Hopefully, we can build a team to get promoted to where Basingstoke are."

Also heading up the road to join up with their former management team are two Basingstoke players - striker Michael Charles and midfielder Steve Laidler.

Talking about the departures, new Basingstoke Town boss Gray said: "When players come to the end of their contract, they have got the freedom to do as they wish. I have no problem with that.

"They were players I would like to have kept, but they had the power to go.

"I have spoken to a few of the players and had quite a positive reaction from most of them and others I am hoping to bring in. It is not all bad news. There are a lot of players out there."

Gray travelled to Brentford last night to attend the exit trials for young players being released by professional clubs, hoping to spot a bargain.

"You always find two or three players who have been released by professional clubs but who could make it in the game at a lower level," he said.

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