The new Hastings United Football Club managerial duo have made their first four signings.
United manager Garry Wilson and assistant Danny Bloor have retained goalkeeper Josh Pelling, and brought in former Lewes trio Sam Cole, Ollie Rowe and Jack Walder.
Wilson said: “We’re trying to put a team together to the best of our ability. There’s no doubt we want to be competing at the higher end of the table and we’ll continue working hard.”
Pelling has played in every minute of every United league game over the past two seasons and was a resounding winner of the supporters’ player of the year award in 2013/14.
The former Brighton & Hove Albion youngster has opted to remain with his hometown club even though he is set to be working in the London area next term.
Of the other three names mentioned, Rowe and Walder have had brief spells with United in the past, whereas Cole is a complete newcomer to The Pilot Field.
There’s no doubt we want to be competing at the higher end of the table and we’ll continue working hard.Garry Wilson
Rowe, who scored three goals in 18 appearances for the U’s during the 2010/11 campaign, can play anywhere across the back line.
Another who started his career with Brighton, Rowe also played under Wilson at Eastbourne Borough and was the second highest scorer for Lewes last term. Six weeks of teaching and coaching in Thailand mean he won’t be available until mid-August.
Combative midfielder Walder played just seven times for United in 2011/12 and has spent the bulk of his career at Lewes, captaining the club to boot.
Cole, a left-footed left-back who can also play in midfield, played with Pelling in the Rye United side which reached the FA Vase quarter-finals in 2011. He then spent three years with Eastbourne Borough before joining Lewes.
“Jack Walder for me is a real leader on the pitch,” said Wilson. “Last year wasn’t his best because he had an injury and a lot of work commitments, but his injury has cleared up now and when he’s on top of his game, I don’t think there’s a better player around.
“We were keen to get both Ollie and Sam in. Both are big players who can play in a variety of positions and can score goals.”
After Wilson returned from holiday at the end of last week, he and Bloor have held meetings with existing players and potentially new ones this week. More additions are expected shortly and Wilson admits a striker is a priority.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” added Wilson. “I’m totally energised and ready for the challenge. I know the club inside out, I know a lot of people down there and I feel at home.
“I wasn’t desperate to get back into management. I enjoyed the little break I had and there weren’t many jobs that would’ve enticed me back in - Hastings was one of them. I think you need a bit of love for the club and I feel it’s the right club at the right time for me.
“It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be an overnight fix, but we’ll put in as much effort as possible to make it happen as quickly as possible.”
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