St Albans City have underlined their ambition for the Conference South campaign next season by bringing midfielder Lee Clarke back to the club.
The Saints have signed Clarke after he was released from Conference Premier club Welling United. Clarke made 197 appearances for the Wings and scored 59 goals as he captained the team to the Conference South title in 2013.
The midfielder netted 92 goals in 231 appearances during his first spell with the Saints which ended in 2009 when he moved to Welling.
Joint manager James Gray said: “Lee has got a lot of experience and know how of playing at that level. His record is second to none and he’s the all-time leading scorer in the Conference South. It was no secret we were struggling for goals from midfield until Steve Wales came in and hopefully Lee will be able to get to double figures next season.
“He will also add a lot to the dressing room and he has been around and played many years in the Conference South. It’s always good to have players that know the club inside out and he will come here with the fans’ backing. I don’t think it will take him long to bed in and can see him hitting the ground running early.”
In a busy week for the newly-promoted Saints, City agreed contracts with top scorer John Frendo and player of the season Lee Chappell.
Gray said: “We wanted to do our business early so to get them both tied down already is a massive boost. It will be the first time John has played at Conference South level so it is a big opportunity for him. Lee has been the heart and soul of this club and he was outstanding last season for us.”
The Saints were confirmed in the Conference South next season after speculation the club could be moved into the Conference North. Gray is relieved the team will be playing more local games next season and thinks this should help attendances.
He said: “It’s good to be playing in a division we know pretty well and there will be quite a few local derbies next season with Wealdstone, Boreham Wood and Hemel Hempstead all in the division so hopefully we can get some more big crowds down at Clarence Park.”
St Albans City are forming an Under-14 team to represent the club in the highly-regarded Eastern Junior Alliance (EJA).
The new team will be in addition to the Under-16 side and will play their home matches at Woollams Playing Fields.
If you would like to join for a trial at the end of this month, contact James Shepherd on 07734 395355.