Ring out the Old…. As 2018 chimes midnight, Priory Lane says farewell – and thanks – to goalkeeper Mark Smith, who leaves the club having signed a new full-time contract at Billericay Town.
Smudge arrived just over a year ago, making an instant impression with three penalty saves in one FA Trophy tie at Royston – and an equally noticeable impression with his physical and vocal presence in his penalty area. A larger-than-life character, Mark has made many friends at the Lane, and he leaves with our best wishes. The Billericay switch gives him a much easier commute from his London home, and it will also allow him to integrate his own work in football coaching.
Ring in the New…. Taking over the gloves and jersey, with immediate effect, is 21-year-old Sam Howes.
A highly rated goalkeeper with many admirers, Sam is on contract at Premier League Watford, joining them from West Ham United in 2017. Sent immediately on loan to Hampton & Richmond Borough – for whom he appeared more than once against the Sports – he ready has excellent experience of National South.
During his time in East London, Howes was named Young Hammer of the Year at the age of 16, and he has represented England at every international youth level from Under-16 to Under-19. He is expected to remain at the Lane for the rest of this season.
Ring in the New (2)…. And in on a short-term loan from National League Bromley comes striker Joe Quigley. Joe, 26, spent ten year at AFC Bournemouth as a youth player and then full professional. Although National South is new territory for Joe, he has gathered experience at several higher-level clubs including Gillingham, Wrexham, Woking and Maidstone United. He is also a Republic of Ireland Under-21 international.
Manager Jamie Howell is very happy with the comings and goings. “We all wish Smudge every success in what is for him a slight change of direction, and we understand his reasons. I’m delighted to have a replacement in Sam Howes, whom I have much admired in the past. Sam already plays beyond his years and I know that Watford have high hopes for him.”
“Meanwhile up front, we have been working hard to get it right, in terms of converting chances and having more to show for our attacking pressure.
“At fully 6’3”, Joe cuts an imposing figure as a striker, and I think it’s fair to say that opposing defenders will have their hands full. He has a great CV and I believe he is exactly what we need as the team evolves. I’m sure supporters will join me in a big Priory Lane welcome, please, for both our new players!”