Thursday 17th July 2003

Gravesend's Hatch joins Barnet for £23,000
Martin Allen, manager of Nationwide Conference club Barnet, finally got his man when he signed 6' 3" Gravesend & Northfleet striker Liam Hatch for a £23,000 fee.

The 21-year-old, who first caught Allen's eye when he played for Gravesend in their 4-1 defeat of Barnet at Underhill early last October, is giving up his job as a car cleaner to achieve his ambition of becoming a full-time professional

Allen watched Hatch several times last season - he scored against Barnet in the 2-2 draw at Northfleet in April - and, after weeks of negotiations, made him his 11th close season signing and the first to cost a fee.

Allen said of the new boy: "He is a third striker for two places. He is a young, raw talent who is not yet the finished article and will need a lot of hard work.

"He will join the squad for training on Thursday and will be in contention for a place against Arsenal like everyone else."

Hatch was top scorer in the Kent League when he began at Herne Bay and has been at Gravesend for two seasons.

Chairman Tony Kleanthous clinched the deal for Allen with his opposition chairman at Gravesend to provide the manager with the final piece of his team building jigsaw.

Hatch said: "I am thankful to Gravesend and have enjoyed my time there - but this is a big break for me to go full time."
Meanwhile, Gravesend manager Andy Ford has signed former Leyton Orient central defender Lee Shearer, ex-QPR youngster Pat Gradley and attacking midfielder Andrew Drury.

Highly-rated Drury has agreed a two-year contract after joining the Kent club from Dr Martens League Eastern Division neighbours Sittingbourne for an undisclosed fee.

Shearer, 25, has previous Conference experience with Dover Athletic and Margate, while 20-year-old Gradley, a defensive midfielder, was released from Loftus Road at the end of last season.