Town get their man: Goal machine Walshaw signs

12th January 2013'Blue Square Bet Niorth.'Guiseley AFC V Oxford City.'Pictured Guiseley's James Walshaw celebrtaes scoring the opening goal of the game'Picture by Gerard Binks.
12th January 2013'Blue Square Bet Niorth.'Guiseley AFC V Oxford City.'Pictured Guiseley's James Walshaw celebrtaes scoring the opening goal of the game'Picture by Gerard Binks.

They needed a predatory goalscorer with a proven track record and on Monday, they got him.

Harrogate Town announced the capture of 30-year-old former Altrincham ace James Walshaw early in the morning, and within minutes, Twitter was abuzz.

It’s likely to be the signing of the season for manager Simon Weaver, as Walshaw brings a hit rate which saw him net 32 goals last season and lead Alty to promotion into the Conference Premier.

Before lighting up the J Davidson Stadium, Walshaw was a folk hero at Guiseley, where he spent two spells either side of a move to Darlington and loan time at Halifax.

Family commitments mean Walshaw has now decided to pursue his football nearer home, and for Town, it couldn’t have worked out better, ahead of a campaign Weaver says will be “the hardest league so far” in his tenure.

“James’s recent record speaks volumes, his enthusiasm for the game is infectious and he wanted to play for the club and stay in this area,” said Weaver.

“We want people who are good in their position, and work hard in every aspect of the game.

“He’s won promotion and played an integral part in that season.

“I want that impact in our starting 11.

“He will certainly bring that fear factor with him and I am certain defences will be sick of the sight of him again this coming season.

“It’s going to be a much harder league this year. Chester, Chorley, Fylde are investing heavily, then Guiseley, Boston, Ferriby and Solihull are all going for the league.

“That’s why we had to sign a player like this. I want to build an aggressive goalscoring team.”

Walshaw is likely to partner last season’s leading scorer Ashley Worsfold up front, who despite attracting attention from ‘a play-off side’ this week inked a contract to stay at the CNG for another season.

It’s a strikeforce Weaver is looking forward to seeing in action.

“Ashley has developed as a player and he’s only going to improve,”” said Weaver.

“He’ll play alongside James and that can only benefit everyone. It’s exciting.”

In a busy week on Wetherby Road, experienced goalkeeper Phil Barnes, 35, has arrived from Gainsborough Trinity, as Town’s impressive young stopper Craig MacGillivray will join a league club any day.

Rumours have him poised to sign at York City or Bradford City, but local sources now suggest he’s heading somewhere in the Midlands.

“Craig is a very talented lad, I’ve nothing but good things to say about him,” said Weaver.

“Nobody here wants to stand in his way.”

Barnes meanwhile has played at Rotherham, Grimsby, and was part of the Sheffield United team promoted to the Premiership in 2006.

“He’s always done well against us” said Weaver.

“He’s a character in the changing room, a big friendly giant and he’ll be that voice at the back, in terms of getting the defensive structure in place.”

Barnes’ arrival means upcoming youngster Peter Crook, dual registreed at Railway last season, will still be pushing for a first team berth.

“Peter was Supporters’ Player of the Year at Railway, I expect him to be pushing Barnesey as hard as he’s pushed Craig,” added Weaver.

Another new face is likely to be ex-North Ferriby United striker Ryan Kendall. The 24-year-old was reported to have left the club last week

Town are hoping to confirm progress in bringing him to North Yorkshire by the end of this week.

Weaver said: “He had a quieter year as Ferriby haven’t used him as much but his ratio is one of the best, and he would supplement our attack.”

One more name linked to the CNG Stadium is FC Halifax player John McCready but Weaver said no discussions have taken place.

Finally, midfielder Dan Clayton has moved on once again, the 21-year-old joining Adam Bolder at North Ferriby.

Meantime, Town have announced a friendly against FA Cup finalists Hull City on July 21, and another against Grimsby Town on July 15.