Saturday 05th June 2004

Merridan turns down Dartford to stay at Thamesmead Town

Influential wing-back signs one-year deal as Mead push for promotion

THAMESMEAD Town manager Paul Blade was delighted to announce the capture of his right-wing back Marc Merridan on a one-year contract, after the player had been invited to pre-season training by Southern League Division One East outfit Dartford, writes Stephen McCartney.

The twenty-year-old, who joined the club in 2002 from local rivals VCD Athletic, is a key member of Thamesmead's team and scored the only goal of the game when they defeated double winners Cray Wanderers 1-0 to lift the Go Travel Kent League Cup at Folkestone Invicta's Cheriton Road ground last month.

Blade, who will be looking to go one better after his side finished runners-up to Cray Wanderers last season, said: "Obviously clubs have come in for him but we didn't want to lose him.  Initially, at the end of last season we wanted to give him a contract.  We talked to him, he knows all about the club, and what we are trying to do.  However, Dartford approached him and invited him down to train pre-season.

"If you want a player you have to sell the club to him.  We offered him a one-year deal, and he was happy to do that."

The key player to Blade's promotion plans will, however, be going under the knife in the summer, having an operation as he has an ingrowing bone at the back of his ankle.

Blade added: "I don't think he wanted to leave Thamesmead, but he is looking to play at a higher level.  We want to take the club further and he listened to what we had to say."

However, Blade insisted it's not all about money at his club, but the way the club treat players - giving them a good playing surface to play their football so they can enjoy their time at the club.

Blade, who was at the club's Bayliss Avenue ground, whilst speaking, revealed he is currently in discussions with up to four players as they bid to gain promotion and play in the Ryman League Division One in season 2005-2006.

"We are looking to get out of the league - we want to go forward and we don't want to fall behind.  We have made our feelings known to go up", he insisted.

Blade is hoping the capture of Merridan to a one-year deal will keep Sam Thomas at the club, after he too, was offered a chance to play at a higher level, with Dartford.

The manager added: "I am confident Sam will stay with us - but we can't stop people talking to our players."

Speaking on the club's website, Merridan said: "It's great to get things sorted out.  I have really enjoyed my time at Thamesmead Town and the club is looking to go forward -  as I am.

"I am really looking forward to winning promotion next year and pushing up the league's with Thamesmead."

Blade received more good news as the club secured the services of youngster Dave Martin for next season.

Martin joined the club from Slade Green late last year, and has declined a move back to his former club and has also turned down Erith Town's approach.

However, Martin could see the ambitions of Thamesmead Town matched his own and therefore decided to stay with the Bayliss Avenue outfit.

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