Danny Kedwell has been busy building his first Cray Wanderers squad ahead of the 2021/22 season.
Cray’s new gaffer has brought in Andy Drury as his assistant, with Jon Main, George Howard and physio Paul Smith completing the management team.
But what about the new signings?
First-up is defender Harvey Brand, who has most recently been playing in the SCEFL Premier Division for Beckenham Town. Harvey previously played for Welling Town, and has extensive Isthmian experience with Margate, Whyteleafe and Thamesmead Town.
Harvey is joined by Hythe Town’s Dean Beckwith, who has been appointed club captain.
Dean was part of the Hereford United side which climbed from the National League to League One, but some Isthmian supporters with long memories might recall that in the years prior to that period of his career he spent a brief time with Tonbridge Angels and Margate.
He came through the youth setup at Gillingham, and after leaving the Bulls in 2009 played for Northampton Town, before moving on to Luton Town and then Eastleigh. Hw went on to play more than one hundred times for Sutton United, as part of the side that won National League South, before spending the 2019-20 season with Havant and Waterlooville.
He moved to Hythe in September of last year, and made nine appearances in the number five shirt before the campaign crashed to a rather early end.
Another newcomer to Cray Wanderers for the 2021-22 season is centre-half Ejiro Okosieme.
Tall, elegant 28 year old, Ejiro started out in the Youth system at Middlesbrough and a couple of other North East clubs.
He has been on the books at Walsall, Bishop’s Stortford, Chatham Town, Macclesfield Town, Dover, Braintree Town on loan and went on to Welling United in August 2019 before joining Romford in January 2020.
Fjord Rogers, a striker, comes in from Hollands and Blair, but isn’t entirely unknown in Isthmian circles as he was once a youth player at Faversham Town. He also spent time at Lordswood and Tunbridge Wells, but this will be his first time at Step Three.
Jamie Yila moves over from Fisher. A winger, he played against his new club as the Wands progressed in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on September 23rd, and was upended to win a penalty for his side as they defeated Tooting and Mitcham United in the previous round. He moved to Fisher from Tower Hamlets.
Anthony Cook is the next new signing into the club. He is a stylish midfielder who also played out on the wing was last playing for Welling United. After making his league debut for Dagenham & Redbridge in December 2007, Anthony via an appearance on Sky TV’s Football Icon series had a spell at Cardiff City as a youth team player. After spells at Concord Rangers, Carshalton and Braintree Town he really came into his own after signing for Chelmsford City where he played for four seasons scoring 22 goals in 93 league games.
Anthony moved on to Ebbsfleet United for the 2013-14 season but then signed for Bromley in January 2015 where he helped Bromley to the Conference South title before returning to Ebbsfleet in the summer of 2015. He remained at Stonebridge Road until 2018 and then after a loan spell at Woking signed for Dulwich Hamlet in the summer of 2018 and then onto Welling United ahead of the 2019-20 season.
Charlie Allen has re-signed for the club for the 2021-22 season. Versatile midfielder, Charlie impressed with his performances for Cray since arriving at the club in the summer of 2019. He went into Wands folklore in January 2020 when he scored twice at Enfield Town as a makeshift striker and as a stand-in centre-half in the famous win at Worthing two weeks later. Charlie has made 48 appearances for the Wands over the last two seasons and scored 5 goals Charlie is the son of former QPR player Martin Allen and was a youth player at Reading and then Brentford when Martin was manager of the club. He then went to Dagenham & Redbridge where he became a first team player and then played in the Football League for Notts County and Gillingham where he was a team mate of new manager Danny Kedwell. He then headed into non-league football with Tamworth on loan and then Margate, Farnborough, Reading City, Grays Athletic, Greenwich Borough & Dulwich Hamlet.
Jack Hanson is very much one for the future and has come through the youth set up at Dover Athletic but made his Isthmian League debut at Sittingbourne making a couple of appearances in February 2020 before a short stay at Hemel Hempstead Town before returning back to Dover.
London born Sadik Balarabe was with Reading as a youth team player but went to study in the US and played College Soccer and then Development Football in the States. He then travelled around Europe playing in Greek, Portuguese, Turkish and Spanish lower league football.
Sadik returned to England in 2020 and played briefly at Hemel Hempstead Town scoring on his debut before moving on to Dulwich Hamlet before the cessation of non-league football last season. We welcome Sadiq to Cray Wanderers and we hope he enjoys his stay with the club.
Jack Turner is an exceptional keeper who joins Cray after four very successful seasons at Slough Town where he made 175 appearances and kept 46 clean sheets winning the Managers Player of the Year in 2017-18 and Supporters Player of the Year in 2018-19. Jack’s fine form helped the Berkshire club to promotion into the National League South in 2017-18.
Jack began his career at AFC Wimbledon while Danny Kedwell was playing for the South-West London club making his league debut in the 2009-10 season before joining Staines Town where he spent five seasons and then on to Slough in 2017.
Attacking midfielder Anis Nuur, 24, arrives at Cray Wanderers from Hartley Wintney FC after joining the Southern League Premier South club in September 2020. He made 11 appearances in league and cup and helped the Hampshire club reach the 4thQualifying Round last season. Anis developed at Westfield FC but also came through the Colliers Wood United academy and later played at Tooting & Mitcham United and Hanwell Town where he made 5 appearances in the 2018-19 season. Anis is definitely a player with huge potential and we welcome him to the Wands and hope he enjoys his stay with the club.
Max Gayle is a graduate from the Cray Wanderers Youth setup having been part of the club as part of the U13s which won the Kent Youth League Cup Final in 2016. Also a part of the Kent Youth League North champions in 2017-18 as U15s he also played in the 2018-19 League Cup Final for Cray. Max has been part of the U18s set up and was given a squad number last season and is a real driving force from midfield with a powerful shot but can also play at the back so very versatile.
A hugely talented prospect, Lee Lewis was one of the stars of the FA Youth Cup team of 2018-19 which reached the 2nd Round proper of the competition. Lee arrived at the club early in the season and featured in the Isthmian South Development league side and made a big impression on the senior management team with his all action performances from midfield. Scored two key goals during the cup run at home to Raynes Park Vale and at Worthing in the 1st Round which earned Lee a first team debut against Charlton Athletic in the Kent Senior Cup in November 2018. With the Isthmian South-East title won Lee featured in the last three games of the league season and became something of a first team regular following a spate of injuries at the club in 2019-20. A powerful striker of the ball, Lee has made 46 appearances and scored his first senior goal in the FA Cup win against Bedfont Sports in September, 2019 also scoring in the FA Cup tie at Canvey Island last season in October 2020 and has scored five goals from midfield.
Another exceptional talent emerging from the Cray Wanderers Youth conveyor belt, Emanuel Oduguwa is a slight but strong midfielder who came to the club as part of the U16s set up and impressed in a first team pre-season game at Sheppey United in July 2019 and starred as Cray Wanderers U18s advanced to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup in 2019-20. Emanuel made his first team debut as substitute in the 5-1 win against Kingstonian last season.
Another talented young prospect to join Cray Wanderers is left-back Abdul Saccoh who was with Junior Reds Seniors last season. Quick and nimble, Abdul impressed during pre-season training and signed for the Wands in June 2021. One of a number of exceptional young players at the club who will make first team debuts in the 2021-22 season.
Cameron Brodie is a fine young prospect who has signed for Cray Wanderers on a season long loan from Dartford FC. Cameron is a midfield player and is a product of the successful and prolific Dartford Academy and should feature highly during pre-season and during the 2021-22 season.
Here are the pre-season fixtures.
Thursday 8th July vs Chatham Town: A: 2-1
Saturday 10th July vs. Hashtag United: H: 4-1
Tuesday 13th July vs Hollands & Blair: A: 1-2
Sunday 18th July vs AFC Wimbledon: H: 4-2
Tuesday 20th July vs. Glebe: A: 4-3
Saturday 24th July vs Beckenham Town: A: 2 pm
Wednesday 28th July vs . Sittingbourne: A: 7.45 pm
Saturday 31st July vs. Herne Bay: A: 3 pm
Tuesday 3rd August: vs Welling United H: 7.45pm
Saturday 7th August: vs. Ashford United: A: 3pm
The Isthmian Premier League season kicks off on Saturday 14th August with Cray hosting familiar opposition in Lewes.