Hadleigh United’s Ryman League transfer coup

HADLEIGH United have made a statement of intent ahead of the new season by signing two experienced players from the Ryman League.

Midfielder Michael Steward and left-back Ben Wake have joined from Ryman Division One North runners-up Needham Market.

Manager Stuart Crawford hopes to tie up deals for two new strikers by the end of next week as Hadleigh look to improve on ninth in the Ridgeons League Premier Division.

“Our squad is really young, so to add a couple of lads from the Ryman League is great,” said Crawford. “All I’m looking to do is improve on last year. We signed a lot of players, but we are only going in for players who would be a definite improvement on what we’ve got.”

Crawford is just waiting for the signature of one striker and expects the deal to be completed when the Ridgeons League registration forms are released this week, while he is also in talks with another forward.

In the meantime, he is delighted with his double capture from the Marketmen, especially former Cambridge United man Steward, who enjoyed two promotions with Bury Town.

“He didn’t really get regular football at Needham, but for us in the Ridgeons League he’s a big signing,” added Crawford. “He’s 30 years old, has been there and done that, is a strong player and a big character. He also turned down some big money moves from teams like Wroxham to come to us.”

Despite the marquee additions to his squad, Crawford refused to directly entertain thoughts of promotion, but believes his side could cause the top sides a problem, as they did last season.

“All I’m looking to do is improve on last year,” he said. “We competed with everyone last year, including the champions Leiston, so there’s no reason why we can’t be in and around the top end of the league if we can start strongly.”

Before the new Ridgeons campaign kicks off on August 13, Hadleigh have a testing pre-season schedule.

They travel to Cornard on July 16, before hosting Chelsmford (July 19, 7.45pm), Soham Town (July 23, 3pm), Team Bury (July 27, 7.45pm), Tilbury (July 30, 3pm), Leiston (August 2, 7.45pm) and Waltham Forest (August 6, 7.45pm).

l Hadleigh United are looking for an away pre-season fixture on July 9. Anyone interest should contact Stuart Crawford on 07881 935397.