Marlow midfielders sign for Hungerford Town and Steadman replaces Blake

Jordan Blake

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The summer rebuild is well underway at Marlow FC after the club narrowly failed to reach the play-offs in the Isthmian League South Central Division last season.

Manager Mark Bartley is likely to have his work cut out to mould a squad capable of challenging for promotion once again next season with several of his first choice, more experienced, players moving on to pastures new.

Two of them, goalkeeper Simon Grant and defender Adam Richards, announced they were linking up with runaway South Central league champions Bracknell Town shortly after the end of the campaign.

While this week, midfielder Junaid Bell and explosive attacker, Kamaron English, stepped up to the National League South to join Hungerford Town.

Having played 24 times for the Blues last season, striker Marcus Mealing has also moved on, dropping down a level to join the ambitious Ascot United in the Combined Counties Premier Division North.

The players have all been loyal to the Blues over the past few seasons and move on with Bartley's blessing.

Both Bell and English thanked their old boss in Twitter messages this week, in part for the opportunity he gave them to progress at Marlow but also for his help in earning them a move to a higher-level club.

Bell said: “Next chapter, can't wait to get started. Thanks to Mark Bartley for giving me my first opportunity in non-league six years ago where I've been ever since.”

Bartley responded: “Wishing you nothing but the absolute best, you've earned this opportunity.”

Amid the turnover of players, it was also announced that Jordan Blake would be leaving his position as first team coach after several seasons with the club. This week it was announced he'd joined Woodley United as first team manager.

But as one door closes, another opens, and his role is set to be filled by former Maidenhead United youth team coach and Chalfont St Peter manager Aaron Steadman.

Blake said on Twitter: “For people that know me personally I am an ambitious individual and have always had a desire to go on and become a manager one day. I feel like now is the right time to try and fulfil that desire inside me.

“I would like to thank the gaffer, Barts, for all of his help and support over the years.”

Thanking Blake, Bartley said: “Jordan has been an integral part of my backroom staff for the last few years. In that time, he has gone from a relatively unknown quantity to a trusted friend and colleague who I have a tremendous amount of time for. It was always his wish to progress into management and I'm delighted that he has been afforded this opportunity at what I regard to be a good club.”

On Steadman's arrival, he added: “Aaron is someone I have been speaking with about players and football related matters for several years. He has a knowledge level that I respect and a perspective that I value, so when the opportunity came up for us to work together it was a no brainer.

“I know Aaron's knowledge of the league, player network in the area and also his well-known coaching ability makes his a hugely valuable addition to my management team.”

The club also released their pre-season fixtures last week, starting with a trip to Wokingham & Emmbrook on July 16 and ending with a game at Haringey Borough on August 6.

They'll play eight warm up matches in total. After Wokingham they host Harrow Borough (July 19), visit Holyport (July 22), entertain Welwyn Garden City (July 23), visit Ardley United (July 26), host the Walton Casuals (July 30) and visit Thame United (August 2).

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