Transfers, love them or hate them, they are the central cornerstone which effects successes of every club from the Premier League all the way down to the depths of amateur Football. Every year players of varying caliber enter and depart our beloved clubs, some to pursue their dream of playing at the highest level possible, others for chomping at the bit around the prospect of extra cash, whereas the odd few decide they want to become members of non-league’s top tier. We have already witnessed some unbelievable coups in this league ranging from valuable experience to frightening prospects. It really does feel like… like Football’s coming home… Oh, and that non-league is becoming stronger, that too. Please join me as we explore who I believe qualifies as the National League’s best signings, I will also score them out of 10 (with the higher being better) based on how good the player is in comparison to his new team.
Paul Robinson (AFC Wimbledon -> Havant and Waterlooville) – 10
With my work I intend for no disrespect to any Football clubs of any kind, but may I just say how on earth did Havant manage to bring Paul Robinson to West Leigh Park? Perhaps location wise it’s a no brainer but still, this is an unbelievable signing and in my opinion the very best one made thus far. The colossus of a centre half was instrumental in the success of AFC Wimbledon’s promotion winning season of 16-17. He is living proof that age really is just a number as at 36 years young he would still be an asset for any League 2 and League 1 team to have around. God help opponents when they see Paul Robinson bossing the defence, because it’s going to take a man made of pure hardened steel to come within a slight chance of bettering him.
Jack Muldoon (AFC Fylde -> Harrogate Town) – 8
What are one of the most important things a newly promoted team needs in order to stay up? If an established attacker who can play anywhere in the final third was one of your answers, then you can appreciate Harrogate’s new signing in full. The 29 year old carries bags of non-league experience which shows on the pitch with his quick thinking and consistent end-product when played out wide to supply deadly marksman Danny Rowe, who contributed to an impressive output of 24 goals in his debut Conference season. Prepare to have your right hand side of defence terrified, as Jack Muldoon’s usually on fire.
Danny Wright (Cheltenham Town -> Solihull Moors) – 9
Ohhh Danny Wright Danny Wright, Danny Danny Wright! He’s back folks, the human battering ram makes his return to the league he escaped in after the 15/16 season. Solihull don’t even need to send in the cavalry with big Danny Wright up top. Did you know that he once stepped on a Lego brick to which the brick immediately started to cry? Well that’s big Danny Wright for you. In all seriousness Solihull have bagged a unit, he harasses defenders to the point of near extinction. Technically he isn’t bad either with a fantastic Football brain and link up play to fellow attackers. As long as Solihull give him lots of help on the flanks and runners in behind, this will be in my opinion one of the signings of the new season. Relegation? Hah, I think Danny Wright will have something to say about that one…
Chris Neal (Fleetwood Town -> Salford City) – 10
It’s easy to understand why Salford are referred to as ‘$alford’ on social media, to which this signing only further proves the point. Ever since the legendary Class of ’92 took over including Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, it’s fair to say the Manchester based club has become financial powerhouses for their league. Chris Neal is a League 1 quality Goalkeeper all day long. Everything about his game from shot stopping, to catching, to distribution is desired by that of many League 1 clubs across the country. Remember that scene from a Japanese movie where the school goalkeeper caught drilled shots like it was nothing? To put it into perspective, that is exactly how attackers will look at Chris this season.
Ryan Bird (Dover Athletic -> Maidenhead United) – 8
I don’t think I would include him in the same bracket as big Danny Wright however the deal of Ryan Bird deserves huge recognition. Ryan is a complete unit in himself standing at a statute of 6’4″ but that’s not everything. His immense strength is complimentary for a man of such size as well as his fantastic anticipation from convincingly latching onto loose balls and crosses of any power. The only quarrels would be his lack of pace and at times aggression to get that extra yard further, yet for what it’s worth, put it on a plate and the Bird will score!
Sam Wedgbury (Wrexham -> Chesterfield) – 8
The manner in which he left will leave a sour taste on the tongues of Wrexham fans, although what is important to know is that Chesterfield have got the non-league N’golo Kante on their team. This is a player who I have a personal affinity with having watched him many times last season and my Lord does he never stop working. He’s like one of those guys who does overtime at work and still turns up the next day earlier than everyone else. I like to call him ‘the machine’ because of his ability to win the ball and bully onrushing attackers anytime during a game. Rarely did we concede from build up in the middle of the pitch with Sam the man protecting the line. If he had the ability to pass the ball further than 10 yards without fail, he would be some, some player.
Dayle Southwell (Guiseley -> Halifax Town) – 7
I know what you knowledgeable non-league fans must be thinking, “but who is he? He’s not the big name player I as expecting!!!” well please hear me out. I wanted to include someone who I think is a secretly amazing prospect and Dayle Southwell strikes me as that player. Scoring 7 in 18 appearances for a struggling Guiseley last season, with much better players and positive playing style there is no reason why Dayle can’t step up and deliver on a greater stage being the Shay. Falling just short of 6ft, he is not the most physical, but underestimating him would be criminal as with his quick thinking and turn of pace can cause problems for any defence in non-league. Occasional clear cut chance miss aside, he has all the attributes to go far this kid. Mark. My. Words.
Apologies if your favourite signings didn’t make it, I just didn’t want to be finishing this article during the 22nd century. Please know this is fully opinionated and feel free to agree/disagree with me in the comments or on my Twitter @D3cl8n. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait until the new season, our 11th year of Conerence Football, lets ‘ave it!
featured image credit AFC Wimbledon