How we use Cookies

Keeper hunt

ACCRINGTON Stanley have had to step up their hunt for a goalkeeper next season after Jamie Speare couldn't accept his new contract and Jon Kennedy has still to sign a new deal.

GOOD TIMES... Jamie Speare celebrates promotion to the Conference last season.
GOOD TIMES... Jamie Speare celebrates promotion to the Conference last season.

ACCRINGTON Stanley have had to step up their hunt for a goalkeeper next season after Jamie Speare couldn't accept his new contract and Jon Kennedy has still to sign a new deal.

Speare, the longest serving player at Stanley at six seasons, admitted he was "gutted" that he has been unable to come to an agreement with the Stanley management for full-time football next season.

"I am sick and a little confused," said the keeper who has more than 300 appearances.

"There are no hard feelings as John has his reasons for doing what he has but I just couldn't accept the offer."

"I have responsibilities - I am getting married in a month and I have just moved into a new house. I didn't feel I was asking for a lot, just enough to meet what I have to pay out every month to cover giving up my job at the bank. It would have been impossible."

Fans' favourite Speare, who is now on the transfer list, continued: "It was always going to be difficult whenever I left Accrington, especially when they are on the up."

"I have made a lot of friends both on and off the pitch. Everyone at the club has been great. John, Jimmy (Bell) and Eric (Whalley) have been brilliant and the fans have been a different class. I have so much history with the club."

"It is not easy for John to do his job as he has had to release seven or eight players."

"And I do not want this to get between my friendship with John. He has his reasons for offering me what he did as I have my reasons for not accepting it. I just hope that we can agree to disagree on this one and will remain friends."

Speare, 27, has seen a lot in his time at the Interlink - mostly ups - although did suffer relegation with them.

He said: "My favourite moments have been the two promotions from the UniBond First and the UniBond Premier and 119 minutes of the FA Cup replay against Bourne-mouth - before I was substituted! The sending off was hard on the opening day but Jon (Kennedy) came in and did his job and got an England cap so it was always going to be difficult to displace him."

"Now I just have to see what is out there. I would love to stay in the Conference. I don't want to drop down too far."

"I wish Accrington all the best. I would love to have stayed a little bit longer and would love to come back."

And Kennedy, on stand-by for the England National Game XI's Four Nations event later this month, is also not sure where his future will lie although he is hoping to speak to the club to sort out his contract.

"I was looking at buying a house in the area and want to stay at Accrington," admitted the shot-stopper.

Reds chief Coleman said: "They are both good keepers and Jamie especially has been a brilliant servant to the club. He will get a testimonial no matter what."

"But they would both need to improve if they are going to stay."

"We have got to improve all over the park. Everyone could see last season that the one thing that stands out is that we have conceded too many goals whether it has been a keeper or a defender conceding the goals."

"We need a couple of centre halves, some more cover at the back, a bit of pace and need someone who is more inventive and that is what I will be trying to get in over the summer."

The Reds management are thought to be looking at a deal to bring former Burnley keeper James Salisbury from Wigan on a year-long loan and are also thought to be chasing Radcliffe Borough keeper Danny Hurst.

Borough, however, are thought to want one of the Reds' players in return. Boss Coleman is also looking at a Conference keeper.

Meanwhile, the Stanley management have also been linked with a number of outfield players.

Former Burnley defender Steve Davis, now at Blackpool, has been chased by Coleman for some time - since the middle of last season - when they had hoped to sign him before he reclaimed a place in the Seasiders' first team.

The 35-year-old, a former team-mate of Paul Cook's, still has a year to run on his Blackpool contract but Stanley are hopeful.

Another Clarets player, Lennie Johnrose, is another target and Stanley were interested in another Seasider, Mike Flynn, but he looks set to stay at Bloomfield Road.

Meanwhile Stanley have been told "hands-off" another target, Altrincham skipper Ian Craney.

The 22-year-old, from Runcorn, is still contracted to the UniBond side for another season and manager Graham Heathcote said: "Ian is not going anywhere unless someone comes in with what would have to be a very good offer."

He is described as a "skilful, young, very promising midfielder" and played for the England semi-professional side in 2003.

"I would like Ian," admitted Coleman. "We will have to see what happens."

Other players Stanley have been linked to are midfielder Shaun Carey, who was released from Chester, and midfielder Steve Jagielka who Coleman was hoping to sign during last season. The former Shrewsbury player is currently at Sheffield United and is said to be keen on a move to the Interlink.

Meanwhile, striker Lutel James and defender Steve Halford have now pledged their futures to Accrington Stanley's cause next season

And this now leaves Kennedy, Andy Procter and Steve Hollis still to sort out new deals.

"I am hoping it will be sorted out this week," said Procter who will finish university in June.

  • ACCRINGTON Stanley have made an undisclosed bid for Altrincham midfielder Ian Craney.

The 22-year-old Liverpudlian is highly rated and has had trials at Tranmere Rovers.

Boss John Coleman has been chasing him for a while and is hopeful that the deal will go through.

Craney, who played for the England semi-professional squad, has one year left on his contract at the UniBond League side.

  • PRE-SEASON friendlies have been announced against Crewe on Tuesday, 20 July and Preston NE on Thursday 22 July and Stanley are hoping to sort out their annual game against Burnley - despite the shock departure of Clarets boss Stan Ternent this week.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist