It would be fair to say that Maidenhead United Chief Scout Lee Devonshire has been a busy man this summer. With a number of popular faces leaving the club this post-season, Lee has been fully involved in the recruitment of new blood for the campaign ahead. And it is clear that he is satisfied with the business done so far.
Lee explained to us that like-for-like replacements for those moving on to pastures new was the immediate priority: “In the first instance you have to look to replace the players you lose. It became clear pretty early that Harry (Pritchard), Sam (Barratt), Jake (Goodman) and Sean Marks were all likely to move on for various reasons. So replacements for those four were the immediate priority, which we have now secured."
It is clear that recruitment at National League level can be a tricky business as Lee added: “All deals are different but most at this level involve contacting the agent of the player or the player directly if they are not represented by anyone. Max Worsfold is someone we have liked for a while so once Sam and Harry both were going it was a no brainer for us really. In regard to Herson Alves a lot of credit must go to Ryan Peters as through the relationship that Ryan has at Brentford. We were able to move early once Herson had been released. Ayo is someone we have tried to sign before and once he was released by Eastleigh we put a call into him and his agent and luckily we were able to agree a deal to bring him to the club not long after. Ryan Bird was a no brainer for us also. Scored goals at Dover and is a local lad so ticked many boxes when searching for a replacement for Marks. Birdie knows Sam Lock and Aaron O’Brien well also which helped. All four lads were our first choices in their positions so we are very pleased.”
And the question that Magpies fans are looking forward to seeing answered – what will the new boys bring to the club? “Herson Alves will bring pace, creativity and goals to the table and believe his style will be appreciated by the fans. Birdie will bring goals and a presence to the front line as well as experience, which will be very important for some of the younger players. Ayo’s physical attributes are there for all to see so expect him to bring them to the table as a centre back as well as a good habit of scoring goals. Max has a great left foot as most left footers do. I expect him to get quality into the box as well as chipping in with his fair share of goals.”
So, with business done early perhaps most fans would expect that the bulk of the business has been done. Lee however has other ideas: “I would expect us to strengthen in probably two or three more areas. We are in a position now where the bulk of our shopping is done so we can now wait and hopefully pick off a late gem.” Maidenhead will be something of a rarity as part-timers in the National League next season, and Lee has a pretty open mind with regard to both the pitfalls and the positives with regard to recruitment under such a model: “In regards to the part time status it can work both ways. If a player has a good job then the part time route can work for them so in those instances it obviously would play in our favour. A lot of the younger players want full time football and you have to respect that they will be unlikely targets for you. You can generally gauge this from the initial contact with them but as many a player is finding this summer they don’t always get what they want or expect so you have to stay as patient as possible which is not always easy as they could become an option later in the window."
And Lee isn’t looking beyond the full-time big name clubs when asked which clubs he sees as challengers at the top of the table in 2018/19: “Barnet as John still knows this level inside out and they have a striker who may score a few now he is back fit! Also the likes of Salford will be in the mix after signing players like Nathan Pond and Danny Whitehead and having the backing that they have at that football club." Not that he is ruling the Magpies out of the running when asked about his ambitions for Maidenhead in 2018/19: “First and foremost we must secure our status in this league but push on and try and better last season for me and see where it takes us. With the play offs dropping to 7th who knows?." And longer term, Lee has even more ambition for the club moving forward: “100% Football League. I look at the growth in support and what is being done on and off the pitch we have the best possible chairman to help make that dream a reality one day."
That is a dream I am sure that we all share! If you want to be there to see whether we can reach Lee's targets next season then why not sign up today for a season ticket for 2018/19 at our unbeatable prices: https://maidenheadunitedfc.ktckts.com/brand/season
Updated 21:34 - 13 Jun 2018 by Steve Jinman