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Vanarama National League

National League notes: Aldershot to Chester

Ahead of the new season, Ruth Tunnell has been finding out what our opponents have been up to over the summer. Here’s part one of her National League notes…

Aldershot Town

The Shots finished last season in mid table notching up 56 points from 46 matches and they have had a busy summer with a number of players joining the club.

There was an early boost for the Shots in the close season when their top scorer Charlie Walker signed for another year. The striker scored 14 goals in 35 starts last season. Walker was one of the main reasons that Peacehaven and Telscombe gained promotion from the Isthmian League One South as during the 2013/14 season, Walker grabbed 43 goals.

Aldershot have added midfielder Liam Bellamy to their squad. Bellamy was with Dover Athletic last season and had been offered a new deal with the Kent club but the former Ebbsfleet player opted for a move to Hampshire instead. Also joining the shots is forward Shamir Fenelon. Fenelon spent a month on loan at Whitehawk towards the beginning of last season but didn’t score during a five game spell.

Barrow

There will be a round trip of 686 miles for Barrow and Maidstone fans to endure when the two sides meet each other in the fixtures during the 2016/17 season and the away match will be the furthest Stones fans have travelled since reforming.

Barrow won the National League North at the end of the 2014/15 season and enjoyed a good first season back in the National League finishing in 11th place.

Despite that, the Bluebirds have had a clear out this summer with eight players not having their contracts renewed. Barrow have also failed to hold onto Andy Cook who was the third highest scorer in the league last season with 38 goals in 48 matches. Cook has moved Tranmere Rovers on a two year free-transfer deal.

Boreham Wood

The Stones and Boreham Wood last met in 2013 when Maidstone United suffered their first home defeat of the season in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup to Wood who at the time where in the Conference South.

At the weekend, former Premier League striker Yakubu turned out for Boreham Wood in their friendly against Reading. The player lives close to Wood’s ground but the club don’t rate their chances of landing him on a permanent deal for the season.

One player who is definitely with Wood this season though is defensive midfielder Mark Ricketts. Ricketts was Woking’s captain and had made 276 appearances since 2009 for the Cards but opted for a change of scenery this summer.

Braintree Town

Braintree Town have established themselves in the National League following promotion from the National League South in 2011.

Iron are managed by Jamie Day who enjoyed a lot of success with Welling United before a difficult brief spell in charge of Ebbsfleet United. Day was assistant manager at Forest Green Rovers last season but he has taken the opportunity to become the main man with Braintree for the 2016/17 campaign.

Day has made a number of signings over the summer. One of them will be a familiar name to Maidstone fans as goalkeeper Jamie Butler has joined Braintree for an undisclosed fee from Hemel Hempstead Town. Butler had previously been with the Met Police and Concord Rangers.

Bromley

Former Gillingham coach Steve Lovell has joined Bromley as assistant manager this summer. He joins up with another former Gills favourite Neil Smith who is in charge at Hayes Lane.

One of the Ravens’ signings this summer is former Ebbsfleet right back Joe Howe. Howe had been with the Fleet for six years making more than 200 appearances during that time and was in the starting line up for the National League South play-off final match back in May which ended with Maidstone gaining promotion to the National League.

Another player arriving at Hayes Lane during the close season is winger George Porter. Porter had a spell with the Stones during their time in the Isthmian Premier League and last season made 29 appearances for Welling United in the National League scoring one goal.

Chester FC

After a reprieve against relegation in 2013/14, Chester finished 12th the season after and ended the 2016/17 season in 17th place.

The Blues have lost the services of John Rooney this summer to local rivals Wrexham after he had made 108 appearances for the club scoring 25 goals. Rooney is a forward and the brother of the England player Wayne Rooney.

Chester were also hit by the fact that top scorer Ross Hannah who was on target 22 times last season has elected to join Barrow. However, the blues have brought in a number of players including central defender Blaine Hudson, left back Johnny Hunt and midfielder Elliott Durrell. Durrell was Tamworth’s top goal scorer last season in the National League North.

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