Graeme Armstrong leaves Gateshead
Striker Graeme Armstrong will be leaving Gateshead after three years at the club to concentrate on his teaching career while continuing to play part-time football.
The popular 26 year old scored some important goals for Gateshead - a total of 48 in 144 games - after signing for a £5,000 fee from Northern League neighbours Dunston Fed.
Armstrong scored the goal that gave Gateshead a first leg lead in the Conference North play-off semi-final at Southport last year and scored both goals in the FA Cup defeat at Brentford this season.
"Graeme Armstrong was one of my first signings when I took over as manager," said Gateshead boss Ian Bogie.
"He proved to be good value at £5,000 and his return in front of goal at UniBond premier and Conference North level was very good.
"Last season he chipped in with ten goals in the Blue Square Premier and he is a player who has been pivotal to our success over the last three years.
"I am disappointed to lose him. He has made a big contribution to Gateshead Football Club and we wish him well for the future.
"With Armstrong and Steven Richardson no longer at the club I will be stepping up my efforts to bring in a couple of replacements."
Armstrong scored 20 goals in his first season at Gateshead, 18 in the second and ten last season in the Blue Square Premier.
The striker admits he is disappointed to leave the International Stadium but had to look at the bigger picture.
"If I had been in my early 20s it might have been different but I'll be 27 when the new season gets underway," said Armstrong.
"I've had three great years at Gateshead and I am gutted to be leaving, but I have to look to the future.
"What has been achieved individually and as a team over the last three years has been great and I'm happy to leave the club in the position it is in - the top flight of the non-league game.
"Staying in the Blue Square Premier was the icing on the cake and I like to think I've contributed a lot over the last few seasons.
"The fans have been tremendous to me. I had a good rapport with them but I'm sure they will understand the reasons I have left the club.
"It wasn't an easy decision but I had to let the head rule the heart and it goes without saying that I wish Gateshead all the best next season and beyond."
"I still want to play at the highest level on a part-time basis and we'll have to wait and see who my next club will be."
Armstrong will leave the club as a free agent and Chairman Graham Wood paid tribute to the departing front man whose work rate and commitment were second to none.
"Graeme Armstrong proved to be a tremendous signing for Gateshead FC and a great servant to the club," said Wood.
"I hope the fact that his next club will be fortunate enough to secure him as a free agent means that his reward will be a good signing on fee and wage package - I am sure that there will be much competition for his signature."
The other nine players offered full time deals have re-signed: Paul Farman, Craig Baxter, James Curtis, Carl Jones, Martin Brittain, Kris Gate, Phil Turnbull, Alex Francis, Steven Baptist while Brian Wake has agreed terms.
Daryl Clare and Andy Ferrell are already contracted for next season while loan pair Paul Heckingbottom and Peter Winn have been offered permanent deals.
Graeme Armstrong in action during his last game in a Gateshead shirt during the final day win over AFC Wimbledon at the International Stadium. Photo by Steven Hadlow.