TULIPS: Signing spree to ignite title charge

Top guns: Simon Mowbray (above) and Liam Harrold (below) will be a formidable strikeforce in the UCL Premier Division.
Top guns: Simon Mowbray (above) and Liam Harrold (below) will be a formidable strikeforce in the UCL Premier Division.
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SPALDING United boss Andy Stanhope this week completed a five-man transfer coup and declared: “We want the UCL Premier Division title.”

The Tulips supremo has swooped for highly-rated St Neots keeper Luke McShane and ex-Deeping Rangers duo Danny French and Liam Harrold, while also appointing the experienced Danny Hussey as player/coach.

“Stan” has also raided rivals Holbeach United for star striker Simon Mowbray, as he sets about building a side capable of bringing the good times back to the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field.

Spalding’s relegation from the Evo-Stik League was rubber-stamped by the FA this week, with a place in the United Counties League also confirmed by the authorities.

But Stanhope is keen to put a dismal period in the club’s history behind him, insisting that the title is the only target for the Tulips next season.

He said: “I’d like to think that we’ve got the makings of a really strong side now and we’re in for a few more players yet.

“We’ve got to be aiming for the title next season. In an ideal world I want to see us bounce straight back up, any team should have the ambition to succeed.

“Everything at the club is positive and the chairman has been great. We want to build a solid foundation and get the fans back on side.”

The five new additions are a massive signal of intent from Spalding.

McShane was widely-regarded as the best keeper in the UCL last season, having won the title with St Neots Town.

Fans will hope his second stint with the Tulips will be as successful as the first, having been named player of the season under Alan Biley.

At the other end of the park, few teams in the league will be able to boast a strikeforce as prolific as Mowbray and Harrold.

Winger French has proven pedigree at this level too, while Hussey’s contacts and experience will be a massive bonus to Spalding’s title tilt.

All five players have featured for the Tulips at least once before in the past.

Stanhope has also invited all of last season’s side to report for their first pre-season training session on June 28.

He wants to assemble a committed squad of 16 players, in a bid to banish the revolving door culture at the club.

Stanhope added: “It’s all about competition for places and getting the right atmosphere.

“A squad of 16 players that turn up week in, week out is the aim. All of the new players will have to fight for their place, which is how it should be.

“We’re looking at a right back and centre back at the moment and we hope to take a look at a number of trialists in pre-season.”

The Tulips are yet to firm up any friendly fixtures, but expect to announce their pre-season schedule in the coming weeks.