Bury Town manager Richard Wilkins believes he may have his ‘strongest ever’ midfield, despite losing Craig Parker to Ryman Premier rivals Leiston.
The Free Press understands Parker was offered the chance to become one of the best paid players in the Blues’ history, but were instead blown out of the water by a lucrative offer from the east coast Blues — as well as giving Parker the chance to link up with his old Needham Market manager Danny Laws.
However, Bury have eased the loss of the attacking midfielder — who netted 15 goals for them last season — by tying winger Jordan Patrick down to a new contract and bringing in Ryan Semple from Corby Town.
“It could possibly be the strongest midfield we’ve ever had,” said Wilkins, whose side begin pre-season training on Monday. “Ryan Semple is a great signing and has a great attitude about him.”
Semple, who netted 11 goals in all competitions as Corby were relegated from Conference North last season, played 52 times for Peterborough United before tumbling down the divisions after he ‘fell out of love with the game’.
He has rediscovered his hunger with spells at Deeping Rangers, Gainsborough Trinity, Boston United and Corby before making the move to west Suffolk, 12 months after he could have signed.
The attacking-minded midfielder, who turns 28 next Friday, said: “I decided with their professionalism and persistence in wanting to sign me was really flattering and I was impressed with their ambitions and plans for the club.
“Their desire to get promoted is certainly something I want to be part of.”
Semple is the Blues’ third summer signing and director of football Trevor Collins expects them to bring a new mentality to the side in their bid to get out of the Ryman Premier Division.
“Leagues are won off the pitch as much as they are on the pitch and maybe the balance hasn’t quite been right over the last couple of years,” said Collins. “Now we are bringing in people like Dave Bridges, Seb Dunbar and Ryan Semple, as well as others, who have been there and done it.
“The club is also working very hard to bring the best of the local youngsters through and it is absolutely essential we have the right characters in the dressing room.”
Despite the excitement at bringing Semple to Bury, Collins admitted the loss of Parker had been a ‘setback’, while Wilkins said the club ‘could not have done any more’ for the midfielder or centre-half Adam Tann, who has also made the move to Leiston.
Parker said: “It’s no reflection on Wilks and Bury Town, it’s purely I wanted to link up again with Danny (Laws).
“I’ve been in contact with him since I left Needham and the opportunity came round for me to join him at Leiston.”
n Bury’s pre-season fixtures are as follows, not as printed last week: Thetford Town (July 12, a); Walsham-le-Willows (July 15, a); Colchester United Under-21s (July 23, h); Mildenhall Town (July 30, a); King’s Lynn Town (August 3, h); Cambridge United (August 5, h).
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n The Blues are also still on the look-out for a new physio. Email CV to firstname.lastname@example.org