ROCESTER have added a goalscoring winger to their squad as manager Dave Shaw looks to build around the solid spine of the team who have already signed up for next season.
Experienced trio Richard Froggatt, Carl Allen (pictured) and Nick Ward, as well as players’ and manager’s player of the year Dan Wain and top goalscorer Dan Brown have agreed to stay at the club, and Shaw this week added wide man Allwyne Thompson.
The former Cheadle Town player has scored three goals in two pre-season friendlies so far after being recommended by Ward.
“I had a phone call saying there was a lad looking to play more regularly, so we took a look at him,” said Romans boss Shaw
“He’s played for Stafford Rangers and Newcastle Town, but was most recently just playing Sunday football.
“He’s big mates with Nick Ward, and he’s done well since he has come down here.
“He’s good on the ball and is someone else who can get a goal.”
Shaw is pleased to have got his key players signed on, and wants to build from there.
And he says that the newly-formed reserve team will give him more flexibility in amassing a larger squad as the club look to avoid another season flirting with relegation.
“You can have all the youth in the world but it’s no good if you haven’t got that experience in there as well,” Shaw said of his freshly-signed stalwarts.
“We’ve got a good spine, and that’s important - you get that spine in and then work around it.
“All the lads from last season say they want to sign on, so it’s just a case of getting them to put pen to paper.
“Then there’s a few new lads who we will look to bring in.
“The squad might need a bit of streamlining then, but that is the good thing about having a reserve team now.
“Players who aren’t getting into the first team can still get a game.”
Meanwhile, chairman Ian Cruddas has expressed his delight after the club were saved from relegation from the Midland Alliance.
The FA threw out Highgate United’s appeal against their ground being ruled unfit for step five, and with Gornal Athletic withdrawing their appeal against being docked 14 points for fielding ineligible players, Rocester effectively finished fourth from bottom.
They will take their place in the new Midlands League Premier Division, a merger of the Alliance and Midland Combination leagues, and Cruddas said: “Dave and his assistant Anthony Jones can now move forward in finalising their squad for the new season.
“Several potential signings had reserved their options until our league status had been confirmed.”
Rob Crawley has been appointed manager of the reserve team - AFC Rocester - who will compete in the Midland Regional Alliance against mostly Derbyshire-based teams.
Cruddas said: “The team will comprise local players in their late teens who approached the club requesting the chance to form the team themselves.”
Crawley is a former Meir KA player, a qualified referee, and has appointed Michael Playy as his assistant.
Platt’s company – Storm Windscreens – will sponsor the reserves, while new first-team sponsorship had been obtained from Ashbourne-based company CPJ Civil Engineering Limited – who have provided a new playing strip.
Cruddas has also praised the work which has gone on behind the scenes at Hillsfield this summer.
“The ‘ground-work team’ – myself, Bill Wheildon, Martin Bloor, Cliff Gregory and his wife Janet – have spent many hours carrying out improvements at Hillsfield, including the complete refurbishment of the social club both inside and out,” he said.
“Cliff and Janet have been brilliant in the way they have revitalised activities in the social club since their appointment at the start of the year, which have provided a welcome boost to the club’s income.
“Hopefully the teams will be able to match the off-field efforts when the new season starts.”