Home is certainly where the heart is for Ollie Hughes after the striker agreed a deal to join Ben Chenery’s restructure at Bury Town.
The 28-year-old, who has had spells with Walsham-le-Willows and AFC Sudbury last season — where he scored nine goals in 23 appearances before moving to Gran Canaria to teach — has agreed in principle a deal to become the Blues first signing of the summer following relegation from the Ryman League Premier Division.
And although he had offers from former club Walsham, as well as Mildenhall Town and Premier Division new-boys Needham Market, the lure of embarking on an ‘exciting challenge’ with his hometown club was too much not to take up as he swaps sun-kissed beaches for Suffolk once more.
“I am a Bury boy first and foremost and so it was a no-brainer for me when considering an offer from the club,” said Hughes, who returns to Suffolk at the end of this month.
“I’ve had a brilliant year coaching in Gran Canaria but I’ve been offered an excellent opportunity at Mildenhall College, so it was a good time to come home.
“I’ve also missed football. I don’t want to look back and think I missed out a few years playing, and Bury just sold me the idea of playing for my hometown club.
“Even as an outsider it hurt me to see the turmoil they went through in relegation and so I think everyone at the club has a point to prove now.
“There has been an overhaul of the squad and it looks like a clean slate; hopefully that will bring a fresh energy at the club.
“It could go a number of ways for us next season, no-one really knows, but I don’t think there will be great expectations on us from the outside and it will be an exciting challenge.
“The one club that can expect that little bit extra out of me is Bury and hopefully I can help push the club on towards mid-table or even the play-offs next season.”
Manager Chenery hailed his first recruitment of the close season and confirmed talks are ongoing with a number of other players including a ball-playing midfielder and striker Sam Reed, as he aims to rebuild his squad at Ram Meadow.
“Ollie is a great addition to the club and I’m confident he will benefit us hugely on and off the field,” he said.
“We are getting closer with a number of players and have held talks with Sam (Reed), so we are hopeful of something positive.
“We have got to build a squad that will be sensible but with a good blend of experience and youthful exuberance; it is a difficult balancing act.”
n Former Bury Town midfielder Jordan Patrick has agreed to join Needham Market, while their academy director Andy Gould has stepped down from his role to take a break, with Rob Peace now overseeing the club’s two centres in Needham and Brantham.