Returning goalkeeper, Shane Bland, is a ‘statement signing’ according to Chris Hardy who was delighted to welcome the popular shot stopper back to the Turnbull Ground.
Labelled as the “best goalkeeper in non-league football” by Chris Hardy, the gaffer was over the moon to re-instate Bland back into his squad.
“Shane is a top goalkeeper,” Hardy said.
“I think he’s as good as there is at the level and that can only be a statement of intent for what we’re trying to do for the upcoming season.
“Shane sets the bar when it comes to goalkeeping so to bring a goalkeeper of his calibre into the club and someone who sets high standards, that’s all important.”
During Bland’s last full season at the Turnbull Ground, the Blues were unfortunate in just missing out on a play-off spot in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division.
The reliable hands of Shane Bland played a key role in the lofty finish for the Seasiders, who were eventually rewarded with success in the North Riding Senior Cup final at the Riverside Stadium.
“Shane was a pivotal part to our success,” Hardy stated.
“A lot of the good and progressive things that we did came from Shane. I’m expecting Shane to come back into the club and pick up where he left off.
“If he can do that, he’ll give us a big boost from a recruitment point of view. Hopefully he can also build some good partnerships with players who he has played with before.”
Reflecting on the goalkeepers previous spell with the club, Chris Hardy only has fond memories of the quality and assurance that the keeper brought to his side.
Through thick and thin, Bland was always prepared and played a key role in various situations including keeping points secured in dying moments.
“Shane had performed and achieved at Whitby before,” said Hardy.
“He deserved his move to a higher level but unfortunately in football, things don’t work out and that proved to be the case with Shane at Spennymoor.
“That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that he’s still a top goalkeeper. I think that as he’s moved further down the line in his career, he’s more mature and he’s still in his prime.”
Listen to Chris Hardy’s reaction to Shane Bland’s return here.