BEING offered your first ever professional contract should be a day of celebration but for youth team skipper Chris Allen, the day brought with it mixed emotions.

Having dreamt of joining Town's senior squad ever since starting at the County Ground as a 10-year-old, Allen realised his goals but in the process had to say a painful farewell to some old pals.

While Allen was given the nod by boss Paul Sturrock on Tuesday, his fellow second-year scholars suffered what every young footballer dreads - being told they have to look elsewhere.

Luke Hopper, Jon Stewart, Ben Wells and Scott Doe were all found surplus to requirements as Paul Sturrock's cull started in earnest and meant Allen's big day will always be tinged with sadness.

"It was a strange day," said Allen. "I was obviously absolutely delighted to get my contract but it was a difficult time with all the other lads getting released.

"Scott Doe has been here since the age of 10 and obvioulsy he was very upset when he was told he would be released.

"All of them were good friends and I can't imagine how they feel. I am sure though the club will help them find somewhere else and they will move on and be okay."

Devizes-born Allen has been at the County Ground ever since the age of 10 and he believes, had Town not won promotion, a few of his old pals could still be with him.

He said: "I think the manager said to a few of them if we had not won promotion into League One they may have been given another year's contract.

"Even myself, I know at the moment I have just been given a two-year deal. If I don't perform I won't be kept on and it will be for nothing."

Centre of Excellence manager Jeremy Newton watched Town's latest crop of youngsters narrowly lose 2-1 to Supermarine in the Wiltshire Premier Shield final on Wednesday night, and admits the job does not get any harder.

He said: "It has been said before but Tuesday really was the horrible part of the job.

"It was great to see Chris get his contract but very hard to see the four other lads go.

"I tried to console Scott Doe and it was really hard seeing him like that. Understandably he was absolutely devastated.

"Still we will do our best to help them find a club. As a club we have to do our best by them because they have done their best by us.

"They worked hard for us, done everything we say and now we have to make sure we repay all that by helping them where we can."

At least Allen's success shows Town's current youngsters elevation into the first-team squad is not beyond them.

Newton said: "Chris Allen has shown tremendous work-rate and great enthusiasm for the game.

"He is like Lukas in a way. Everything you tell him he listens to and is prepared to take it on board."