Send us news, start your message Messenger News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Robins land Reeves
12:29pm Monday 23rd July 2012 in Alty FC news
ALTRINCHAM have pulled off one of their most spectacular transfer coups in recent memory after persuading the country’s most prolific marksman last season to join them for a second time.
After racking up a remarkable 44 goals, and becoming the highest scorer in English football’s top seven divisions in the process, Damian Reeves looked destined to fulfil his dream of testing himself in League Two or even higher.
But, after tiring of being ‘passed from pillar to post’, he turned his back on his various suitors and kept a promise to Alty chairman Grahame Rowley that he would return to Moss Lane, rather than join another club outside the Football League.
Courted by Doncaster and Gillingham and approached by Gainsborough and Lincoln, Reeves phoned an elated Rowley with his decision on Saturday night and followed up by signing a two-year contract the following morning.
At 26, he still hopes to forge a full-time career in the game, and his contract contains a clause allowing him to leave for nothing, should a League club come in for him.
“It would have to be a league club,” he stressed. “I wouldn’t leave Altrincham for another Conference club, not even in the Conference National, but I hope people can appreciate that I am still ambitious about playing in the Football League.
“That’s why the clause is there, but I’m not even thinking of that now. I’m just glad it is all sorted out and I’m an Alty player again, and all I’m thinking of is pulling the jersey on again and trying to score even more goals than last season, if I possibly can.”
A jubilant Rowley described it as a triumph for persistence after tracking Reeves throughout the summer and never abandoning hope of luring him back.
“There have been so many ups and downs, but I never gave up hope of getting Damian back, and neither did Lee Sinnott,” said the Alty chairman. “Even when he went down to Gillingham on Saturday to play against Dartford, and it seemed for all the world he would end up joining them, I still clung on to the hope it might yet go our way.
“I was out with my wife Karen and a few friends at a restaurant on Saturday night, and I warned them I was expecting a fairly important phone call. Sure enough, Damian called and explained how the game had gone well, but Martin Allen had asked him to go back again in another two weeks. It seemed to be the final straw, because he said he wasn’t doing that. Then he just said: “If the offer is still there, Grahame, I’d like to re-sign for Altrincham.”
He added: ‘“Lee and I have worked long and hard to make sure we have stayed at the forefront of Damian’s thoughts, but it was worth every minute when I heard those words. It is a massive breakthrough for us, a real feather in our cap and a real statement of intent about our ambition.
“I think everyone, Damian included, believed we had seen the last of him in an Altrincham shirt, because of the interest created by his phenomenal scoring exploits last season.
“But while others seem to have messed him around, I think he could see we were being honest and straight with him, right down the line. We actually started trying to put something together with him last February. We have been proactive throughout, and we did our best then to secure his services for this coming season.
“We kept talking to him, but he wanted to keep his options open, and it became clear, as the season drew to a close, there were going to be plenty of options for him to consider.
“When we parted at the end of the campaign, he said he wanted his future sorted out quickly, and we all imagined it would be. But nothing came to fruition, and the more he was kept waiting for concrete offers to materialise, the more fed up he became.
“Of course, we needed to know what was happening as well, so we could formulate our plans. We couldn’t afford to be caught between two stools by hanging on too long, but, equally, if there was a chance of having Damian in our team again next season, we didn’t want to miss out on it.
“I think communication was the key. We have been straight and fair with him throughout, and I think he appreciated that. We never put pressure on him or set deadlines. We just said we were here if things didn’t work out, and even the night before he played for Gillingham against Dartford, I texted him to wish him all the best. I just said: ‘Good luck, let us know how you get on’.
“I kept reminding him of the virtues of our club, the atmosphere of the place, how much he meant to the fans and how we had a manager who knew how to get the best out of him. Not only that, but whatever we offered to pay him, we would pay him. It might not be the biggest financial deal on the table, but it was one that would be honoured every week.
“That perseverance has finally paid off, and I was just so excited last night when the call came through from Damian, saying he was rejoining us. It does show our ambition that we have pulled it off, and there is no doubt Damian is going to be an integral part of our squad next season. Talking to him today, he has already looked at the additions we have made to the squad, and he’s excited about our prospects. He thinks we look stronger and better placed for a promotion push, and there is even more reason for thinking along those lines, now we’ve got him back on board.”
As he savoured the prospect of a first training session with team-mates old and new on Tuesday, and a possible role in Thursday’s friendly at Trafford, a relieved Reeves said: “I’m just glad it is all sorted, and I can look forward to returning to Moss Lane, because I really have been passed from pillar to post during the summer. It has not been a pleasant experience at all.
“At one point, everyone in the country seemed to think I was signing for Doncaster, and I thought I was, as well. But the goalposts kept moving, just as they did at Gillingham, and the whole thing turned into a bit of a nightmare. I was supposed to be signing for Gillingham last week, then the manager decided he wanted to see me in match action, so I headed down there on Saturday, thinking it would all be completed after the game.
“I fitted in well with the rest of the lads, and Martin Allen said he was certain I would score goals in League Two. Rather than sign me there and then, though, he wanted me to go away for two weeks and work on my fitness. With the start of the season so close, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear, so after setting off on the journey home, I stopped halfway and told him I’d leave it.
“To be honest, I think his plans had changed. He sold his keeper to a Premier League club and signed three new players on the Friday, and I can’t help thinking that had something to do with it.
“Anyway, at that point, the only thought I had was coming back to Alty. Gainsborough had offered me more money, and the chance to join Lincoln was tempting, because that is where my wife is from. But I had given Grahame and Lee my word that if I was going to leave Moss Lane, it would only be for a League club, not one in the Conference.
“For all the frustrations I’ve been through, I can honestly say I am genuinely excited about playing for Altrincham again and seeing if we can go one better than last season. I really do think we look stronger, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if we are right in there, challenging for promotion.
“I just hope I can play my part. Your aim always has to be to try and beat your previous tally. I know it’s going to take some doing, and I’m not daft enough to stand up in front of everyone and say I am going to score 50 goals next season.
“But, believe me, that’s what I’ll be aiming for. Certainly, I’ve no qualms about coming back. It is such a well-run club, and the supporters are brilliant, so I will be doing my utmost to carry on where I left off. The most important thing is the team, rather than any one individual, so while I’m setting my sights on trying to beat last season’s tally, if I can score 30 and we end up being promoted, that will do for me.”