BEN Goode will challenge Jonathan North for Wealdstone’s number one shirt next season after joining from AFC Hayes this week.
Goode has been brought in by Gordon Bartlett following Rikki Banks’ decision to end his stay at Grosvenor Vale and seek football closer to his home on the south coast.
The young shot-stopper impressed under Ian Crane at Farm Park last term and was awarded the Manager’s Player of the Year award for his contribution between the sticks.
Bartlett has moved quickly to snap up the keeper and hopes his presence will bring the best out of North, who missed much of the season as he recovered from a horrendous leg break.
“We’re bringing Ben Goode in,” Bartlett said to the Observer.
“I’ve seen him on many occasions and he’s young, got a lot of potential, and I feel he can push Jonathan and get the best out of him. You never know what can happen. There’ll be two goalkeepers in there who will be battling it out at the start of the season.
“Rikki’s departure has been on the cards for a while. He’s now a dad and was having to making the trip back and forth from Hastings. We got him in last year because we knew Jonathan North wasn’t going to be available for the majority of the season.”
North’s horrific injury, sustained at Canvey Island in March 2012, kept him sidelined for months and he went in search of first-team football to Hitchin in January.
He ended the season back at Wealdstone and Bartlett hopes he can recapture the form that made him a key player before the setback.
“Jonathan is back, under contract, and if he can perform the way he did in the year before Rikki came in then it will improve us as a side and certainly won’t weaken us,” Bartlett said. “I’ve got total faith in Northy and I did last year too. He’s a quality goalkeeper and we probably had two of the best in the league last year.”
Meanwhile, there was more good news for Stones fans this week as Sean Cronin and Canadian youth international Elliott Godfrey signed new contracts at the club.
“I’m delighted to have these two signed up,” Bartlett added. “They are two senior players who I think will have a big part to play next season. Despite all of the departures, there’s still the nucleus of a very good squad here.”
Wealdstone’s playing budget has been boosted thanks to £10,000 raised by the supporters club.