With pre season training now in full swing, Evo-Stik NPL Division One South club Rainworth Miners’ Welfare have announced three major signings for the new season.
Defender Kieran Walker and captain Callum Lloyd have joined from near neighbours Hucknall Town, while Matlock Town front man and former ‘Golden Boot’ winner Ian Holmes has also agreed to join the club.
Walker is a tall and classy defender who can also play in midfield, and impressed manager Kevin Gee last season when he played a huge role in the Yellows’ 4-0 New Year’s Day victory over the Wrens.
A former Nottingham Forest youngster, Walker had joined Hucknall from East Midlands Counties League Greenwood Meadows.
Lloyd, a former Mansfield Town midfielder who scored on his Stags debut against Bristol Rovers in 2005, remained with the Stags until 2007, spending some time on loan at Alfreton Town, before being snapped up by Kettering Town.
Further spells in the Conference North with Hinckley United and King’s Lynn followed, and after a short spell at Ilkeston Town he moved to Hucknall, where he became club captain last season.
Holmes was a target of manager Kevin Gee as he strove to end the Wrens’ goal drought last season.
That fell through, but the former Glapwell hot-shot has put pen to paper after figuring with Premier Division Matlock Town last season.
Gee enthused that he was delighted to have secured the services of the three experienced players who were all on the top of the summer target list.
Said Gee: “Obviously like all managers you put down a wish list of players you’d like to bring in to the club, but to have secured three of those at an early stage is fantastic.
“Our budget means we have to go for quality rather than quantity, so I’m delighted to have captured three of the summer targets specific to how we will play.
“Kieran is an exceptional attacking full back and caused us all sorts of problems when he played against us over Christmas last year, so along with Ricky Hanson and Ryan Goward we now have competition and strength in depth in those particular areas.
“Callum, I believe, will be my most influential and significant signing this season. He fills a gap in an area which I felt that we really needed to improve on last year, as we didn’t create or score enough goals from midfield.
“For me Callum is the complete midfield player as he brings not only quality on the ball but also strength and a competitive desire to control games out of possession.
“He will also of course chip in with a few goals but more importantly he’s a winner and I’m sure he will be a fans’ favourite immediately.
“With Danny Bacon committing to the club for another campaign after a fantastic last season, having re-adapted his game from a former front man, and also a few other new faces expressing a desire to join the club and impressing in pre-season training already, I’m confident this year that we will influence games more in the final third than we did last year.
“As for Ian, the statistics speak for themselves. It’s well known that I had Ian at Glapwell two years ago where he received the Golden Boot award for scoring 35 goals, and although I’m sure both Ian and manager Mark Atkins at Matlock would agree that it didn’t quite live up to expectations and hype there last season he still delivered 16 goals in the Premier Division, and for me he’s still the most prolific goal scorer in the 18 yard box in our division.
“With his confidence and appetite for the game returning I’m absolutely delighted to have secured his services for this season.
“After two pre season sessions I’m really pleased at the condition and fitness levels of the returning squad and although we are under no illusions as to how hard the division is going to be this year we are confident that we will be ready for the tough campaign ahead.”
Rainworth begin their programme of pre-season friendlies on Tuesday night when they make the short trip to ambitious Central Midlands North outfit Clay Cross Town for a 6.45pm kick-off.
The Cross have changed their name from Parkhouse for this season, and have begun developing their ground, which has arguably the oddest name of a football ground anywhere, in readiness for a move up the ladder.
Some seating has been installed at the arena, formerly known as Mill Lane, but now named: ‘The Devil Made Me Do It Ground’ after a tattoo shop in the town won a draw for the ground to be named after a local business.
The Wrens’ first home friendly is on Saturday week when newly formed AFC Mansfield will play their first ever match, and on the following Tuesday charismatic former Wrens boss Rudy Funk brings his current charges, Scarborough Athletic, to Kirklington Road.
However, the scheduled friendly on 28th July against Grantham Town has been pulled with the Gingerbreads having arranged a match against League Two new boys York City that day, and Rainworth are now trying to arrange an alternative fixture instead.
Pictured are Rainworth manager Kevin Gee, second right, welcomes new players, from the left, Callum Lloyd, Kieran Walker and, right, Ian Holmes.