Golcar United boss Ash Connor is pleased with how his squad is shaping up ahead of the club’s first season in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

The Weavers won promotion from the North West Counties Division One North and have signed that division’s 34-goal top scorer Kayle Price as a replacement for the prolific Ash Flynn who has moved on.

Key men Dan Naidole and player-coach Joe Skarz have also signed up and Connor revealed that the club has so far only lost two players from last season’s squad. Flynn has switched to NCEL Premier Division rivals Yorkshire Amateurs and Nathan Tayo has also departed the club.

Tayo lives in Manchester and with Golcar now playing in a Yorkshire-based league it made sense for him to join a club closer to home.

On Flynn leaving and Price arriving, Connor said: “When you score as many goals as Ash has you always get sides that are sniffing around. He is a top player and knows where the goal is. He scored a lot of the goals that helped us get promoted last year. He was a big part of our team. 

“Ash going leaves a hole but I think we’ve got a good replacement in Kayle who is a fantastic young talent who scored a lot of goals last season.

“He’s only young and so I don’t want to put any pressure on him but at the age of 22 he can only get better. He’s fast, knows where the goal is and can also help out with assists. We are all excited to see him pull on the Golcar shirt.”

As well as Price being brought in, there is another new face in the form of Slater Barnes, a 28-year-old winger/striker, from Huddersfield Amateurs.

Connor said: “We first came across Slater four years ago and I was really impressed with him. I’ve tried to sign him a few times and always kept in touch. He’s a good character and another attacking option for us. He’s scored a lot of goals at Huddersfield and so we know what he’ll add to us.” 

Connor was pleased to keep the majority of the squad and with training starting later this month the Golcar gaffer says the players who got the club promoted deserve a chance to play at the higher level. 

Former Huddersfield Town defender Joe Skarz, 32, is a vital part of the playing squad and management team and Connor said: “Joe is a fantastic person and is a good lad to bounce ideas off. He’s also an important player and will be vital to us in this league with his experience. I can’t speak more highly of him.”

Graham McLachlan

United have also announced that they have kept hold of both their goalkeepers, Harry Stead and Graham ‘Frankie’ McLachlan. The latter is 41 now and that experience is invaluable to Stead’s development.

Connor said: “Harry had a great season, especially towards the end. He made some fantastic saves that really he had no right to make.

“He’s a good lad and one we are very happy to see stay. Frankie has all the experience in the world and, although he might not play as many minutes, that doesn’t mean he’s any less important. Frankie’s knowledge of the game is brilliant and he has a good relationship with Harry and he’s good at passing on his experience.” 

Another important player staying on is captain Dan Stocker, who leads from the front. Connor said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Dan. He’s great in the dressing room, he’s a fantastic captain and someone we had to retain. He’s a big part of this team and club.” 

Two other re-signings that will delight the Golcar faithful is attacking midfielder Dan Naidole and striker Buddy Cox. Naidole grabbed 25 goals last season whilst Cox also got into double figures. 

On the retention of those two players Connor said: “Buddy has been with us since the amateur days, he’s a different sort of striker. He took some real beatings last year but what impresses me about Buddy is that he just gets on with it, he’s hard working, links up play and scores goals. 

“Dan was important to us last year and will be so again. We chatted to him at the end of last season and said we wanted him to stay. He said he would and I think he really likes it here so we were confident he’d sign up.”

Skipper Dan Stocker lifts the play-off trophy

Golcar have also announced a pre-season friendly against Huddersfield Town’s Academy at the Skye Direct Stadium on July 26, a repeat of last summer’s fixture which attracted a 700 crowd. That game took place during Covid-19 restrictions and Golcar hope for an even bigger attendance this time to help boost club coffers.

Tickets for the game can be bought HERE.

Images by: SEAN DOYLE