Ex-Sunderland and Hartlepool Ben Clark is Gateshead's new manager with Mike Williamson player-coach

Ben Clark.
Ben Clark.

Ben Clark has been named Gateshead's new manager on a permanent basis.

The Heed legend had been handed the reins on a caretaker basis last week after the departure of Steve Watson, who quit the club to join National League North outfit York City.

Mike Williamson in action against Hartlepool on New Year's Day.

Mike Williamson in action against Hartlepool on New Year's Day.

Clark was initially set to take charge of first-team duties in preparation for Saturday's match at Salford City but was quickly appointed as Watson's replacement as Gateshead manager.

Gateshead sit just outside the play-offs in the National League, and beat Hartlepool at the International Stadium on Boxing Day, before Pools got revenge with a 2-1 win at the Super 6 Stadium on New Year's Day.

Assistant manager Micky Cummins' switch to York also means Clark has named Gateshead's strength and conditioning coach Ian Watson as his assistant.

And experienced former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson has been appointed as player-coach.

Former Heed captain Clark, who also had spells at Sunderland and Hartlepool United earlier in his career, made 280 appearances for the club over six-years at the International Stadium, leading the side out at Wembley Stadium in 2014 and has continued to play an active role as a coach since his formal retirement in 2016.

The 35-year-old has been heavily involved in the club's expanding community programme as well as taking charge of the Tynesiders' reserve (formerly under-19s) side for the past season and a half.

Clark was also a surprise inclusion in the Heed's first-team squad against Maidenhead as several injuries saw him named on the bench shortly before his appointment as manager.