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St Albans City sign new keeper Joe Welch after releasing Paul Bastock
St Albans City have signed goalkeeper Joe Welch after releasing club legend Paul Bastock following their promotion.
Welch, 25, started his career with Southend United before moving to Histon where he played more than 50 matches in the Conference.
The shot stepper then moved to Stevenage on loan before joining Ebbsfleet United. Welch moved to Bromley in 2012 and was voted their supporters' player of the season for 2012-13.
Veteran Bastock, 44, played a crucial role in helping the Saints win the play-offs but City have decided they need to bring in a younger keeper for next season in the Conference South.
Joint manager Graham Golds said: “It was a very tough decision because he's been absolutely outstanding for us and was brilliant last season. He made a great save in the play-off final when we were 1-0 down and he has saved us on so many occasions.
“He was obviously disappointed but I think he’s been given another offer closer to his home in Boston. It’s just one of those things where we are in the Conference South and we have to push on.”
Bastock made his debut for the Saints ten years ago and helped the club win promotion to the Conference in 2006 when he was named named supporters’ player of the year.
The keeper moved to Rushden and Diamonds before returning to Clarence Park in 2008 when he helped City avoid relegation. He was named the supporters’ player of the year again, making him the only player to have received the award twice.
Bastock had spells at Boston United and Worksop Town before returning to the Saints at the start of last season where his form helped them win promotion. In February, the fans’ favourite made his 300th appearance for the club against Bideford.
The Saints have agreed a new contract with James Comley. The former Crystal Palace midfielder made 53 starts for City last season, scoring seven goals.
Golds said: “It’s good news for us because he was influential for us last season and outstanding in the final. I feel he is one of the best midfielders in the league and he is young so can push on and could get back into the professional game again.”
St Albans have also handed new deals to defenders Ben Martin and Darren Locke along with former Chesham United midfielder Steve Wales.
Golds said: “Ben is our club captain and he stands tall in the big games and leads the way. Darren did really well when he had his chances. He broke his cheekbone but came back in for the last seven games and did not put a foot wrong.”
The manager continued: “We brought in Steve because we felt we needed more goals from midfield and he was exactly what we needed.
“He came in at just the right time for us. Steve scored in the semi-final and final so the signing could not have worked out better for us in terms of that.”
Left-back Lee Chappell and midfielder Ram Marwa have been named in the Calor League team of the year.
Golds said: “Lee was outstanding for us last season. He played virtually every game and never let us down. It’s nice that Ram has been given that accolade because he is an unsung hero.
“We see what he brings to the squad with his work-rate and energy and sometimes that gets overlooked. He’s a disciplined player who works solely for the team.”
The club have increased the prices of match tickets for next season following their promotion.
Prices for games have gone up to £15 for adults which is an increase of 50 per cent from 18 months ago. Tickets will cost £10 for concessions, over-65s, unemployed and students.
Under-16 prices are £3 while anyone aged between 16 to 21 can get in for £5 if they apply for a free young adults membership card. Adult season-tickets will cost £250, while concessions are £168 and £50 for juniors.
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