RUGBY TOWN: New recruits are arriving at Valley

Niall Cooper returns to Butlin Road for a third spell  PICTURE BY MARTIN PULLEY
Niall Cooper returns to Butlin Road for a third spell PICTURE BY MARTIN PULLEY

Stringer busy building squad to bounce back

Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer has already been busy building a squad capable of advancing out of the Midland Football League at the first attempt, with the club announcing a number of players who have committed to be part of the Valley’s plans for the 2017/18 season, writes Jon Venner.

Striker Ruben Wiggins-Thomas and goalkeeper Niall Cooper have joined Town’s all-time leading scorer David Kolodynski in signing one-year contracts, whilst Stringer has also raided his old club Chasetown to bring in three further players – James Dance, Josh Ruff and Liam Holt.

Wiggins-Thomas arrives from NPL side Belper, where he scored 18 times in a campaign which saw them finish in 10th place in Rugby’s division.

Previous to his spell at the Nailers, he had spent two years at Basford – helping them to promotion into the NPL set-up in 2015 with 48 goals and then being an integral part of the side that reached the play-offs in the subsequent campaign.

The 29 year-old marksman had started his career as a trainee at Chesterfield, and has also featured for Buxton, Hucknall and Carlton.

Cooper re-joins Town for a third spell at the club from Southern League Premier Stratford, having originally been part of Stringer’s 2013/14 Butlin Road squad, when he was an ever-present in the side.

The keeper then signed a contract for the following term, but personal problems restricted him to a single appearance and he returned again in 2015/16 to make a couple appearances under Dale Belford before a back injury saw him take a break from the game.

He was however a regular member of the Stratford line-up last season, and he also lists Leamington, Redditch and Kettering amongst his former clubs.

Midfielder Dance (30) captained Stringer’s Scholars side in 2016/17, scoring 11 goals in 49 appearances in the process – including the only goal of the game in their October victory over Rugby, a feat coincidentally matched by Belper’s Wiggin-Thomas in the same month.

He was subsequently dismissed in the reverse fixture in January after a mass melee in the penalty area, which also saw Town’s Anthony Charles red carded.

The 25-year-old Ruff – who also plays in midfield – had a short spell at Town in 2012 where he made just three appearances from the bench.

He then impressed at MFL side Nuneaton Griff before reuniting with Stringer at Chasetown at the start of last season, making more than 50 appearances for them.

The versatile Holt – also 25 – became part of Stringer’s Black Country squad during the second half of the campaign, having had previous spells at Romulus, Stafford, Rocester, Gresley and Lichfield, and can occupy both a full-back or midfield role.