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Kingstonian sign 16 (SIXTEEN) players


No messing about from Hayden as he reveals sixteen signings and, amongst other things, announces a new club captain.

Kingstonian Football Club is delighted to announce the following summer signings:

  • Amadou Tangara (Goalkeeper, previous club Merstham)
  • Michael Abnett (Right Back, Merstham)
  • Jerry Puemo (Versatile Defender, Farnborough)
  • Ben Harrison (Left Back, Merstham)
  • Ollie Cook (Central Defender, Merstham)
  • Simon Cooper (Central Defender, Merstham)
  • Tom Kavanagh (Central Midfield, Merstham)
  • Kenny Beaney (Central Midfield, Merstham)
  • Gus Sow (Central / Right Midfield, Merstham)
  • Fabio Saraiva (Left Back / Attacking Midfield, Merstham)
  • Dan Bennett (Attacking Midfielder, Merstham)
  • Calum Davies (Striker, Merstham)
  • Youssef Bamba (Winger, Walton Casuals)
  • Dan Hector (Winger, Whyteleafe)
  • Dan Thompson (Striker, Dulwich Hamlet)
  • Reece Hall (Attacking Midfielder / Winger, Dorking Wanderers)

From last season's squad, Rob Tolfrey, Sean Clohessy, Leo Chambers, David Fitzpatrick and Dean Inman are the players that will return to pre-season training on Saturday 29th June.

"It's been pretty busy!" smiled manager Hayden Bird. "Within four weeks, the playing squad has changed dramatically, and we have a brand new management team and coaching staff."

"As you can see, I've signed the core of the Merstham team, which I'm sure everyone expected. The reason for this is very simple; we want to hit the ground running," explained the new boss. "If I had signed a completely new squad, it would have taken time to gel, time for the new players to understand my football philosophies."

"In bringing the core of the Merstham team, the players have a clear interpretation of the requirements already and understand the way we work tactically. Added to that, let's not forget Kingstonian have just secured the players that reached the Bostik Premier Division Play-Off Final, and played some fantastic football, last season!"

Hayden was equally as pleased with the other new additions. "I'm delighted with the players we have added and the players who have remained at the club," he stressed.

"Jerry Puemo is an excellent young defender with enormous potential. He is versatile, quick and has the physical attributes to succeed."

"Youssef Bamba and Dan Hector are both lightning quick and will add a different dynamic to the team. Both wingers are direct, have blistering pace and possess the ability to take players on when confronted one-on-one with an opponent."

"Dan Thompson has won promotion from the National League South with Braintree Town, appeared in the National League and also played a major part in Dulwich Hamlet's excellent end of the season form. Technically, he is excellent, he can handle the ball when under pressure and is a player his attacking team-mates will benefit from playing with."

"Last, but not least, is Hally, who has developed into a very intelligent offensive midfield player. Reece can operate on either flank or just behind the strikers. I'm delighted to have signed him from Dorking Wanderers. I would also like to thank Marc White, who agreed to release Reece from his contract without any transfer fee."

When asked of the balance of the squad, Hayden responded with great enthusiasm. "I'm really pleased with the squad and believe the balance is right to enjoy a great first season with the club. Our first objective is for Kingstonian to win games by playing good football. Football the supporters will enjoy."

"In terms of numbers, it's not top-heavy, so everyone will be motivated to play their part in what hopefully will be a successful campaign. The squad will also provide the window of opportunity for Stephen Drewett's Under 18s to come through the ranks and be part of the First Team set-up."

With regard to the management team, Hayden confirmed that Tutu Henriques will also register as a player and that Kenny Beaney has been elevated to Player-Coach. "I've spoken highly of Tutu in previous articles," reflected Kingstonian's new boss, "Tutu and Kevin D'Arcy will be important to our work on the training ground. However, Tutu is also a vastly experienced defender who remains very capable of having a positive influence on the pitch."

"Kenny is a hugely experienced player who has been promoted on numerous occasions. At 32, he will be an integral player in the team. However, he is also ready to take the next step in his career and be an asset to the Coaching Staff."

On the question of the captain's armband, the manager revealed his first big decision. "Our captain will be Simon Cooper," explained Hayden, "there is no doubt that Rob has done a great job, but, speaking openly, I'm not a lover of the captain being the goalkeeper. I'd prefer Rob to focus on the back four and keeping clean sheets. That's the area in which Rob excels."

In making the decision, Hayden explained how he met Rob personally to discuss the armband. "I've met Rob to discuss the captaincy and explained my views. Being the top man he is, Rob understands the decision and stressed how much he is looking forward to the new campaign. We all know what an excellent goalkeeper Tolfs is. There is no doubting the value he has to the team."

"Simon has been with me since an eighteen year old as a youth team product at Carshalton Athletic. Not only is he an exceptional footballer, he knows me better than anyone. Therefore, he is the natural choice to lead Kingstonian into a new era."

How does the gaffer think Kingstonian will get on in his first year? "I've total confidence that the team will deliver an excellent season," said the manager in a tone that will excite the Kingstonian support. "However, as I've said in previous interviews. let's manage our expectations. In the last five years, Kingstonian have finished 18th, 13th, 16th, 7th and 11th. It's not good enough for a club of this stature and we need to improve on recent seasons."

"However, there is no magic wand, and our success will be earned. The budget is not at the same level as last season, I don't think the Board will object to me revealing that. In fact, I consider it to be a positive rather than a negative decision. The playing budget allows us to sign players who want to play for this club and are motivated to bringing success to Kingstonian Football Club."

"Realistically, I think the focus in our first year together is to lay excellent foundations to achieve a strategy of long term success. Kingstonian need stability and stability will bring us silverware. Let's focus on that. This is a sleeping giant and I want to restore this club to its former glory. That's going to be a long road, and, as with any club in transition, at times there will be highs and lows. Good moments and difficult moments. Nonetheless, with hard work and everyone on the terraces, the pitch and the boardroom pulling together, it's very achievable."

When asked if we should expected any more additions to the squad, Hayden did not rule out the possibility. "I'm still in discussions with one or two players, so yes, it's possible. It's essential that the player has the right attributes, the right qualities. We want players who have the desire to fight for the club week in, week out, players who have the character and the motivation to give everything to the team, to play without excuses."

"I know that everyone is looking forward to returning to pre-season and putting the work in to give our supporters a team to be proud of. There are so many good people here. The fans are passionate, everyone behind the scenes works tirelessly and we have an excellent Board who want nothing more than a successful team. For Kingstonian, it's been a difficult couple of years, a frustrating couple of years and a challenging couple of years. Together, we can change that."

Published Friday 21st June 2019