Craig Parker has revealed that he rejected offers from a batch of other Step Three clubs to commit his future to AFC Sudbury.
And, with the ink now dry on his new deal, Parker has tipped the Yellows to be the Ryman League Premier Division’s ‘surprise package’ in 2016-17.
The attacking midfielder’s 28-goal haul was one of the major driving forces behind Sudbury’s ultimately successful charge towards to the Division One North title last season.
Such a return inevitably captured the attention of numerous managers, particualrly with the knowledge that his contract at The Wardale Williams Stadium was due to expire.
However, following discussions with manager Jamie Godbold and his assistant Andy Reynolds, Parker’s mind was made up.
“To be honest, it was an easy decision because I enjoyed it so much last year,” said the 29-year-old.
“There is a great team spirit among the lads and I had a good season personally.
“Godders and Reyns played a big part in the decision. It has been great playing under them.
“They sold me with their plans for the club and I want to be a part of it.
“I had a few options from clubs at the same level, but I was keen to get things sorted at Sudbury and then enjoy the rest of my summer.”
Parker, along with new signings Sam Bantick and Rob Eagle, has experienced life in the Ryman Premier from stints with the likes of Bury Town and Leiston.
In contrast, many of Parker’s team-mates will be plying their trade at that level for the first time.
Nevertheless, rather than view any potential naivety as a disadvantage, the ex-Chelmsford City man believes that it could work in Sudbury’s favour.
“I really think we will be the surprise package,” he added.
“Many of the lads might not have been tested at this level, but that means there will be no fear.
“A lot of the clubs will not know too much about us and we can capitalise on that.”
On a personal level, Parker is eager to hit the goal trail again, having been so clincial in the previous campaign.
The arrival of Bantick and Eagle, coupled with the re-signing of striker Luke Callander, means that there will be renewed attacking competition.
Even so, Parker has set his sights on surpassing the 25-goal mark for a second season in a row.
“I will be disappointed if I do not score at least 25,” he admitted.
“I am aware it is a jump up a league, but I know it well and I am confident I can reach that.
“If the team adapts to the level quickly, which we can, it will mean I get more chances to score. Then it is down to me to take them.”
nThe week six AFC Gold winners are: £100 (234) K Morris, Great Green, Cockfield; £10 (344) S Mills, AFC Academy; £10 (46) J Pidgeon AFC Academy.