JUSTIN Gardner has backed Billericay Town to progress into the Football League after he departed to take up the joint-manager’s role at Barking.

The former Town assistant manager and Under-21s manager enjoyed a hugely prosperous six months at Billericay, winning two trophies.

But he will now share the management role at Isthmian North newcomers Barking with a former player of his, Glen Golby.

And Gardner said he leaves Billericay on good terms and with nothing but positive memories.

“I enjoyed my time with the 21s and the relationship I had with (owner) Glenn (Tamplin) and the club will definitely progress into league football in my opinion,” he said.

“I spoke to my family and my heart told me to stay because of all the wonderful things that are going on at Billericay.

“I want to wake up and get the buzz you get knowing you will be kicking off at 3pm. Nothing can replace that for me.

“Glenn was understanding and he didn’t want to stop me. We shook hands and remain friends.

“I loved my time there. Playing in front of 2,000 people at the end of the season is something I will cherish.

“We won two trophies in six months (Ryman League Cup and Under-21 Champion of Champions final) and I am very proud of that.”

Gardner said the move happened very quickly, after another former player of his, Steve Willis, announced his intention to play more minutes for Barking as opposed to being joint-manager.

And Gardner has been working tirelessly in the four days since making the move to strengthen the squad.

Former Billericay pair Abs Seymour and Goldy Capela have joined the club, along with Jay Leader, who had been linked with a host of Isthmian and National League clubs.

And he is excited to get started, while admitting he is helping assemble a squad much later than he normally would.

“It happened quickly,” he said.

“The club’s future plans ticked every box and it was music to my ears.

“It is five minutes from my house and I know both Glen and Willis.

“I have always worked closely with my assistants so I look forward to it.

“I have had 15 hours sleep in the last three days as I have been trying to sort things out as I like to have things done by this time.

“I can’t take a break as I have to work hard to help assemble this squad.

“It is very exciting.”