Former Oxford United midfielder Jonny Giles, Jake Cass, Anthony Church, Chris Gregan and Ryan Charles sign for Bishop's Stortford FC
Bishop’s Stortford’s new recruits have cited the club’s ambition as a major factor in their decision to sign and are targeting a serious promotion challenge.
Striker Jake Cass, midfielders Anthony Church and Jonny Giles and defender Chris Gregan have all agreed deals at the R& D Advisors UK Stadium as has winger Ryan Charles.
Cass, Church, Gregan and Charles will all be familiar to Blues supporters having enjoyed previous spells with the club while Giles has League Two experience to call upon from his time at Oxford United.
And they have all set their sights on helping Steve Smith’s team finish at the top end of the Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division in what is hoped will be a complete 2021-22 season.
Physical centre-forward Cass scored seven goals in nine games for the Blues at the start of the 2018-19 campaign before spells with Braintree Town, Chesham United and Chelmsford City.
He said: “I have unfinished business. I wanted to come back to the club I enjoyed my time most at and did well for, combined with the club’s success last season and ambitions this season.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to pre-season and, more importantly, playing games in front of crowds.
“Hopefully we will start as well as we know we can and get as many fans as possible at games and behind the team.”
A physics graduate from Durham University, versatile attacking midfielder Giles made nearly 100 appearances for Chelmsford as well as featuring for Oxford United.
“I’ve known the gaffer for quite a few years now and I’ve always known that he’s got big ambitions for this club,” said Giles.
“I knew from the people I know here there are some very good players and players that will want to compete and will want to go and try to win this league.
“That’s something that I really want to be a part of - a team that wants to win every week, wants to battle for each other and try to push this club on.”
Church is returning to the club for a second spell having made 116 appearances between 2013 and 2016. He went on to join up again with former Stortford boss Rod Stringer at Chelmsford, spending five years with the Clarets.
“The club seems to have huge ambition now, definitely a club I want to be a part of to try to win something,” said Church.
“All the feedback from the players I knew already was really good, about the setup at the club and about what the ambitions are for this year. It felt like a good fit for me really.
“I spent three years here before and enjoyed my time at the club. It feels like I’m coming back to somewhere which hopefully is in a different place to try to push forward again.”
Defender Gregan has signed on for a third spell at the club having previously enjoyed loan moves from Chelmsford.
“Luckily for me it feels like the old team is getting back together. I know a few of the lads already so I’ve been lucky to settle in really easily,” he said.
“The times I have been on loan here we have always been close to the play-offs, so now it’s time to go and achieve that this year.”
Wide man Charles made 59 appearances in his previous time with the Blues. The attacker, nicknamed Spider, scored 16 goals in that period.
The five new signings will join retained players Ryan Henshaw, Mark Haines, Sam Robbins, Sam Mvemba, Jack Giddens, Jack Thomas, Ben Marlow, Joe Gardner, Frankie Merrifield and James Baker, who will be a player-coach with the first team as well managing the academy.
Luke Callander will continue as assistant manager, Mike Williams, of Wickham Hall-based MW Fitness, has joined as a physio as well as a strength and conditioning coach and Kevin Shrimpton is goalkeeping coach.