NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Eight stay, three go and two arrive as Wisbech Town prepare for life at a higher level
PUBLISHED: 10:13 06 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 06 June 2018
Eight members of Wisbech Town's promotion-winning squad have committed their futures to the club - and two new recruits have also arrived.
The Fenmen are preparing for life in the Northern Premier League Division One East following a rise to Step 4 after finishing as runners-up in the United Counties League Premier Division last term. They were agonisingly pipped to the title on goal difference by Yaxley.
Defenders Jon Fairweather, Luke Wilson and Dan Bendon, midfielders Adam Millson, Sam Murphy and Danny Setchell, wideman Billy Smith and leading scorer Alex Beck have all agreed new deals at the Elgoods Fenland Stadium.
“And all of them deserve a lot of credit for staying as we haven’t been be to offer them big money,” said boss Gary Setchell.
“They’ve showed their commitment to the club and myself as a manager, and they’re all excited about the challenge we face next season.
“Fingers crossed we can also get Michael Frew back on board as well. He’s been away but we’ll be speaking to hopefully get that thrashed out in the next few days.”
Wisbech have also completed two new signings – one is a familiar face to Fenmen fans and the other is well-known to manager Setchell.
Sam Vince, who spent part of last season with the club, returns to succeed the retired Paul Bastock as the club’s goalkeeper.
Vince finished last term with Cleethorpes at Step 4 and also represented another of their new Northern Premier League Division One East opponents, Lincoln United, for a time.
Young attacking ace Ryan Harnwell has also arrived from King’s Lynn Town.
Setchell added: “Sam is a young goalkeeper who, by his own admission, hasn’t quite developed as much as he should have done.
“That’s more down to dedication than ability and I firmly believe he is capable of being a Conference North goalkeeper.
“He’s a great shot-stopper, a good size and kicks it a mile. Of course we’ll miss Paul’s experience, but Sam is a very good replacement as he wants to get his down and work hard.
“Ryan is a player I know from my time at Lynn. He’s young and hungry and that’s what I need next season.
“We’ve got to be fit and organised, and hopefully that will be enough to keep us out of trouble.”
But three promotion-winners won’t be back at Wisbech next season.
As previously reported, Josh Ford is one of the trio to depart. Influential defender Jamie Stevens and midfielder Richard Bunting are the others who won’t return for 2018/19.
Ford has returned to former club Holbeach, Stevens is understood to be taking time out of the sport while Northamptonshire-based Bunting can’t commit to the extra travelling Wisbech will face next season.
Boss Setchell also intends to run the rule over a number of trialists during a pre-season programme which begins with a short trip to March Town on July 7.
Their summer schedule also includes games against Boston Town (July 10, away), Kettering Town (July 14, home), Ely City (July 20, away), St Ives Town (July 24, home), Pinchbeck United (July 28, home) and Grantham Town (August 4, home).
The new league campaign begins on August 18 but Wisbech could be involved in the FA Cup on August 11.