Tonge, from Goldthorpe, played for the club then returned as an academy coach before being appointed as Daniel Stendel’s assistant earlier this year and helping the Reds gain promotion from League One.
After Stendel’s sacking last month, the 34-year-old continued to work alongside caretaker Adam Murray but, following last week’s appointment of Gerhard Struber, he left the club yesterday. Struber has brought in two first team coaches in Matt Rose and Max Senft.
They will work with new first team coach Murray who has been on the bench with Struber. Tonge is understood to have been offered a role within the club and decided not to take it. He told the Chronicle: “It is a little bit gutting to leave a job I really enjoyed, especially at my hometown club. But, at the same time, these things happen in football and you move on.
“Hopefully I will be back involved at another club very soon. I learned a lot working under Daniel Stendel and I was hoping to learn more under the new head coach but it wasn’t to be. I will always be grateful to Daniel and the club for the opportunity I was given earlier this year. Not many people get promotion as a player and a coach of their hometown club so I will always have very fond memories of this spell.”
Tonge has been devastated to see the post-promotion buzz disappear this season, after several of last season’s team were sold and replaced by very young and inexperienced recruits. Barnsley are now winless in 17 matches and eight points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Championship.
“I don’t think there is any one thing that has gone wrong but lots of things have come together and killed the squad. We lost huge players from last season’s side and it’s always difficult when you lose the spine of the team. The club tried to remedy that with some good acquisitions but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out up to this point. The players have worked very hard but, whether it’s quality, experience or confidence – it hasn’t worked.
“We won the first game but, after that, the momentum just drained away and it’s totally gone now. We had a lot of good performances and, after the week when we drew with Swansea and West Brom (under Murray in October), we thought it was coming together. But we haven’t been able to build on it. I still think they have a chance of staying up and I really hope they do.”
Tonge would love to return to Oakwell for a third spell at some point in his career. He said: “I would never close the door on coming back to the club. It’s my club and it’s the place where I grew up. I have spent a long time there as a player and a coach. I will watch as many games as I can either from the stands or on TV.”