After a pursuit which began in 2005, Leamington boss Paul Holleran has finally got his man, with midfielder Darren Pond signing for Brakes.
The former Oxford City captain came to Holleran’s attention when starting out at Banbury and his patience has finally paid off with the 28-year-old this week opting to join Brakes ahead of Brackley.
“Funnily enough, he is a player I first showed an interest in 11 years ago when he came on to the scene as a young lad and I was at Halesowen,” said Holleran.
“I was aware he had left Oxford [in the summer] and he has the type of midfield experience and knowledge of the game that would be a good asset for us.
“I thought he was going to Brackley but that didn’t work out and we were on the radar having spoken to him in the summer.
“He came down and he’s enjoyed his time with us.”
A lack of creative options in the centre of the park makes the arrival of Pond all the more vital but despite his long-time interest in the player, Holleran admits he was surprised to attract him to the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.
“In the midfield area with Joe Halsall not about and Callum Gittings no longer with us, when a player of Darren Pond’s ability becomes available you have to be interested.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we had much chance, but the good thing is that he wants to play for us.”
Pond joined forces with Richard Taundry in the centre of midfield for the second half of Brakes’ 1-0 defeat to a youthful Birmingham City XI last Saturday.
However, Holleran says supporters expecting two ball-playing midfielders to be running the show next season might be disappointed.
“I always try to look at a few things in pre-season and I know that Richard can do a job in there.
But he also does a good job at full-back.”
Brakes continue their pre-season programme tonight (Friday) with a trip to Highgate United (7.45pm) before rounding it off on Saturday week at home to Worcester City.