Rocks hunt for new keeper as Smith moves on

Grant Smith receives the fans' player of the year trophy / Picture by Tim Hale
Grant Smith receives the fans' player of the year trophy / Picture by Tim Hale

Bognor are looking for a new goalkeeper after Grant Smith opted not to extend his stay at Nyewood Lane.

It is another blow for the Rocks after they bid farewell to Craig Robson, Jason Prior, Alfie Rutherford and Stu Green - but boss Jamie Howell remains calm over the way the reshaping of the squad is going.

He’s been exploring other options so it’s not a big surprise, but we are disappointed to lose Grant.

Jamie Howell

Former Brighton youth stopper Smith, an ever-present, was one of the stars of last season, excelling in many league games and in the run to the FA Trophy semi-finals after rejoining the club for a second spell as a Rock a year ago.

He lifted the fans’ player of the year title at the supporters’ club’s end-of-season presentation.

But he is based near Reading and decided to move to a club closer to home for the 2016-17 campaign - and it looks like Boreham Wood of the National League premier-division will be his next destination.

Howell said he was sorry to see Smith move on. “He’s been exploring other options so it’s not a big surprise, but we are disappointed to lose Grant. He’s been excellent for us.

“Travelling was a problem for him at times and that’s been one of the factors that’s led to him moving.

“We have a couple of other options in terms of keepers and the position will be sorted. It’s in hand.”

The Rocks returned to pre-season training on Friday night and will have three sessions a week until friendlies begin with a visit to Chichester City on Monday, July 18.

They have added midfield duo James Fraser and Darren Budd to the squad plus former Seagulls striker Jimmy Muitt, and will also be running the rule over youngsters including Jimmy Wild and Jamie Horncastle.

Howell said: “Not everyone is back for pre-season yet and of course we are still looking at further additions to the squad. I’m happy with the way it is going so far.

“The first priorty with training to is get fitness levels up but at this level of football players know they need to look after themselves in the break, so we’re not looking at anyone coming back a couple of stone overweight.”

STEVE BONE

Get the latest from Nyewood Lane in the Bognor Observer - out on Thursday

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