By Paul Connolly
Whitby Town Football Club has acted fastest to tie highly-rated goalkeeper Shane Bland down to a new two-year contract.
Bland, who joined the Seasiders from Middlesbrough in 2013, put pen to paper this morning, after speculation linking him with a move away from the club.
And the stopper decided, after much thought, that his future was better between the sticks at the Turnbull Ground.
— Whitby Town FC (@WhitbyTownFC) May 5, 2017
“It’s overwhelming really,” Bland told whitby-town.com.
“I know we had a disappointing end to last season, in terms of how we finished, ending up two points outside of the play-offs, but I decided to give it another crack next season and I’m absolutely delighted to remain a part of it.
“[Chris Hardy’s plan] was an incentive to sign. Like Chris said, last season was a consolidation season and I think we appeared to overachieve, but like the chairman and the board say, all the foundations are in place to move up and hopefully we’ll go one better this time around.
“Chris spoke to me about what’s going to happen next summer and what the plans are for next season.
“He outlined what sort of players we needed, where we’re going to strengthen the squad but apart from that, he was talking about trying to really push us over the finishing line. He really put an emphasis on wanting to bring players in and really make a go of next season.”
Manager Chris Hardy, who also worked with Bland at Guisborough Town, acted fast to secure the goalkeeper, who he believes is the best outside the Football League.
“I’m delighted,” Hardy said.
“I’ve gone on record before with Shane saying that I believe outside the professional ranks, he’s the best that there is.
“To secure his services for this season and beyond is a massive boost for the football club. I think it sends out a real statement of intent in terms of what we’re trying to do at the Turnbull Ground.
“There’s so much more to Shane than clean sheets, his all-round goalkeeping has improved.
“His distribution of the ball is paramount to what we do and what we’re trying to do as a football team. I really haven’t got enough plaudits for Shane so to have him on board for the coming season is a real bonus.”