Stratford Town squad continues to take shape
TEN years after helping Stratford Town break into the Southern League, Jamie Molyneux is keen to bring more success to the Arden Garages Stadium.
Molyneux was just a 17-year-old when the Bards were crowned 2012-13 champions of the Midland Alliance, pipping Herefordshire side Westfields to the title by a single point.
Since then Molyneux has been on the books at Redditch United, Hereford, Halesowen Town, Westfields, Highgate United and most recently Bromsgrove Sporting, where he played under Stratford Town’s new assistant head coach Gavin Hurren.
The former West Bromwich Albion and Walsall youth player is excited by the project at Knights Lane and the 27-year-old said he’s eager to help the Bards progress.
“After speaking with Jed (McCrory – chairman) and Gavin recently, and seeing the pitch, facilities and the ongoing developments at the club, it was a no-brainer for me to return and be part of,” he said.
“A decade on from great memories of winning the Midland Alliance with Stratford when I was 17, I’m back with the aim of more success. I can’t wait to get started.”
Another former Halesowen Town man agreeing to join the Bards is midfielder Josh Hawker.
Hawker lists Leamington, Hereford, Rushall Olympic and Redditch United as former clubs, and the 28-year-old says Stratford Town’s “drive to succeed on and off the pitch” was a key part behind the switch to Knights Lane.
“After leaving a club like Halesowen, I needed to make sure I went to a club with an aspiration to go forward and I think I’ve found this with Stratford Town,” he said.
“Another main factor for me signing was that I know they’ve got a great group of lads at the club and it’ll be nice to be re-united with some old friends.”
Also agreeing to make the switch to the Bards is 27-year-old no-nonsense defender James O’Neill who arrives from Stafford Rangers, where he picked up two player of the season awards.
O’Neill, who has previously played for AFC Telford United, Rushall Olympic and Chasetown, is impressed by the squad that is taking shape at the Arden Garages Stadium and believes the Bards should be looking to reach the play-offs “at the least”.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started at Stratford and I have the advantage of being good friends with a couple of the other lads,” said O’Neill, who described himself as an old school centre-half.
“I’ll head it and kick it – and probably hurt one or two in the process,” he added.
Looking at the season ahead, O’Neill went on to say: “Looking at the players from last season and the quality of new signings, I think it’s going to be a very positive season and there’s no reason why we should not be looking at the play-offs at least.”
Alongside the trio of new signings, the Bards have also announced that playmaker Ashley Sammons has agreed to stay.
The Herald reported in April that the former Halesowen Town midfielder was one of a number of players offered contracts for the 2022-23 campaign and it’s finally been announced he’s here to stay.
“I am absolutely buzzing to re-sign for Stratford,” said the 30-year-old. “I think people around non-league have way too much to say about this club that isn’t always positive.
"But it shows where this football club is going when you have the likes of Will Grocott, Liam O’Brien, Jack Storer, Jamie Molyneux, Josh Hawker, as well as most of the squad from last year, all itching to re-sign again.
“I think looking into this new campaign and the calibre of players we are signing and the players we have retained, it truly is going to be a fantastic year for Stratford Town.”