CARDS’ boss Garry Hill has announced that six of his first-team pack have signed on again for next season.
At the start of what will prove another busy summer of contract renegotiations down at Kingfield, gaffer Hill and assistant Steve Thompson (below) have moved quickly to secure some of their key players, including scoring-sensation Scott Rendell.
Alongside the exciting early pre-season news that last term’s player of the year Rendell has turned down reported overtures from a clutch of clubs, including offers from the Football League, Cards’ fans will also be delighted by the announcement that skipper Mark Ricketts, and fellow Cards legend Giuseppe Sole, have also agreed terms to stay at Kingfield.
Likewise, goalkeeper Jake Cole and Cards’ ace midfielders John Goddard and Keiran Murtagh have also signed on the dotted line.
Hill and side-kick Thompson will be hoping that the same kind of squad continuity, which many observers believe was the cornerstone of last season’s superb seventh-place finish, will again pay dividends, especially given the retirements of reliable trio Kevin Betsy, Adam Newton and John Nutter.
While six stalwarts are staying put, one player who will definitely not be lining up alongside Rendell, Ricketts and co is wonder-goal specialist Josh Payne.
Dead-ball specialist Payne, has finalised a move to big-spending Conference rivals Eastleigh, who narrowly pipped Woking to a play-off spot last term, before crashing out to Grimsby Town at the semi-final stage.
Most Woking fans have long accepted that a summer interest in the talented England C international – who scored nine times and set up just as many last season – was on the cards, with the 24-year-old having revived his career during two excellent years at Kingfield, after being shown the door by rivals Aldershot after serving a jail sentence for assault in 2012.
Despite the relative riches on offer at the full-time Spitfires, it is the player’s move to a Conference promotion rival that will no doubt miff sections of the Kingfield crowd and former boss Hill, with the former West Ham youngster seemingly destined for a move back into the Football League promised land.
Indeed, Hill has admitted that he faces a struggle this summer to prevent his prized assets being lured by what he calls the big bucks on offer at rival Non-League clubs like Eastleigh.
Speaking straight after orchestrating their momentous 3-2 last day of the season win over Halifax, in which midfielder Payne scored the Cards’ opening goal, boss Hill said: “If players leave this football club, and they’re young football players, I have no problem with that when they’re out of contract.
“As long as they’re ambitious and they go on to try and play at a higher level and they don’t chase the buck of clubs in the Conference South, or somewhere else, where they’re going for the money and wasting their careers.”
One Woking supporter, voicing his reaction to the early pre-season movements, was Cards blogger Jacob Greenwood, who told Radio Woking’s Declan McCarthy on the stations’ popular Saturday sports show that while he was delighted at the club keeping six star names in their ranks, he wasn’t surprised at Payne vacating the No7 shirt.
Like Hill, he had ‘expected the player to sign for a Football League club’, adding that the player may receive a hot reception when he returns to Kingfield next term.