Blackstones retain most of squad as transfer market ‘goes crazy’

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BLACKSTONES say they have retained most of their squad in a busy summer transfer market in the United Counties League.

The Premier Division outfit are already thinking about next year and hope to better last season’s top 10 finish and possibly make it in to the top six.

Wealthier clubs have shown an interest in several key players in what Blackstones co-boss Darren Jarvis says is a transfer market gone mad.

Jarvis said: “It has gone crazy. Everyone is fighting for the same players and they all seem to be prepared to spend big money to get them.

“There is absolutely no way we can compete financially with the other Lincolnshire clubs at our level, but when it comes down to the environment of the club, the team spirit and the style of football played we feel we do come out on top.

“We’ve had approaches for nine players all with the prospect of increased money elsewhere, but we have managed to retain the vast majority of our squad. That clearly goes to show they like being part of our club and play football for the right reasons.

“There are only two players who are yet to sign and we are hopeful both of those will also stay with us.”

The two men yet to put pen to paper are prolific striker Addie Staffieri and midfield ace David Burton-Jones.

Staffieri is a target for Boston Town, managed by his old Bourne gaffer, Martyn Lakin, and Holbeach while Burton-Jones is on the wanted lists of Spalding and former club Deeping.

The only player to have departed from Lincoln Road this summer so far is goalkeeper Michael Duggan who joined reigning Premier Division champions St Neots ahead of their rise into the Zamaretto League.

The highly-rated stopper received a fond farewell from Jarvis who moved quickly to snap up one-time Manchester United youngster Lee Crockett, who spent last season with Deeping, to fill the void between the sticks.

Jarvis said: “Michael has secured a great move and it is very satisfying for everyone at the club to see him progress in that way. It clearly shows we are doing something right.

“We feel we have brought in another excellent goalkeeper in Lee and believe he will have his best season to date.”

Stones defied the odds to finish in the top 10 of the Premier Division and lift the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy last season.

Despite the avalanche of money elsewhere in the UCL, they are optimistic of making further progress next season.

“It’s a huge challenge,” admitted Jarvis. “But one we are relishing.

“We’d love to think we could compete for a top-six finish and have decent runs in the FA competitions.”

l Stones have appointed new reserve and Under 18 managers this summer.

Seb Hayes takes the reins of the second string with Jim Trevor and Ant Carr taking control of the Under 18 side at Lincoln Road.