New Clitheroe FC boss Stuart Mellish has finally landed his man after capturing experienced Lancaster City captain Ricky Mercer.
The former Fleetwood Town and AFC Fylde defender arrives at Shawbridge with a big reputation, and will be handed the armband for the coming season.
Mellish has been chasing the 34-year-old for some time, failing on numerous occasions during his tenure at Warrington Town.
But good things come to those who wait.
“We’ve managed to sign Ricky Mercer, who was Lancaster City’s captain,” said Simon Haworth’s successor.
“I’m absolutely delighted to get him.
“It’s a real coup for the club.
“I’ve tried to sign him on four previous occasions when I was at Warrington Town but always failed.
“I’ve finally managed to get him so it’s a big statement from Clitheroe Football Club.
“He’ll be our captain for the coming season.
“He has vast experience, he’s fit, energetic and has great leadership skills.
“He’s a real leader on the football pitch and he’ll be my eyes and ears out there. He’s a true professional who leads by example.”
Mellish, who guided the Yellows to the title in the Evo-Stik’s second tier two years ago having replaced Shaun Reid at Cantilever Park, is slowly but surely starting to build up his squad ahead of the new campaign.
While goalkeeper Chris Thompson, Joe Mitchell and Jacob Gregory have committed to the club, the Blues boss has added influential midfielder Warren Beattie, 20-year-old midfielder Sean Keyes, 21-year-old defender Josh Snowden and 21-year-old striker Max Hazeldine.
“There’s still a few to come in,” said Mellish. “I’m delighted with the signings that I’ve brought in so far. There should be another four or five announced soon.
“I’ve got a mix of youth and experience. These young players are hungry and want to get back to it. Clitheroe is a good starting point for them because it’s a club that does things professionally.
“I was fortunate enough to play professional football for eight years so I know what it takes. With the experienced players that we have here, they’ll be able to tap in to that.”
Clitheroe will be challenged with replacing the goals of Alex Newby and Kurt Willoughby, who have moved on to Chorley and FC United respectively.
The duo scored 43 goals between them for the Blues, with Willoughby finishing the season as the second most prolific forward in the division, but Mellish believes he may have found the answer.
Speaking about Hazeldine, who came through the Stanley youth set up and ended last season with Glossop, after spells at Marine and Stockport County, he said: “Max has huge potential and will play at a higher level one day.
“He’s got real quality, he’s dynamic, quick, a real threat and scores goals. When he develops he’ll play at a much higher level. He’s got the potential to get back up to the Football League.
“Goalscorers are hard to come by at any level. If you’re looking for somebody to match the potential of Kurt Willoughby then Max would be top of the list. I’m delighted to bring him in to the football club.”