SOUGHT-AFTER striker Craig Feeney is ready for a second stab at Southern League football with AFC Totton.
Having made a name for himself running defenders ragged with the Stags’ neighbours Totton & Eling, the 22-year-old dual-signed for AFC Totton two seasons ago at around the time when the club were running headlong into major financial difficulties.
He, along with virtually every senior player, left the Testwood Stadium last summer and headed for pastures new – Feeney winding up in the Sydenhams Premier Division with defending champions Blackfield & Langley where he scored 19 goals in 44 Wessex appearances.
But Blackfield, too, experienced problems last term and Feeney was often played out of position in a sometimes threadbare squad.
Welcoming Feeney back to the AFC Totton ranks, manager Steve Riley said: “Craig enjoyed it when he played for us before, but unfortunately there was a mass exodus and it was in his best interests to go elsewhere.
“He was a victim of circumstance but he liked it here and it’s not as if we’ve got to sell the club to him.
“He’s a good, level-headed lad and he’s a natural goal scorer with pace.
“At Blackfield I think Craig played in every position, bar goalkeeper, so it will be nice for him to get a good season under his belt in a team that want to enjoy their football.
“The Southern One South & West is a tough league and it’s a better level for him.”
Feeney’s return to Totton will come as a disappointment to Sydenhams Premier duo Brockenhurst and Fawley AFC – the club where he started as a youngster - who had both harboured hopes of signing him.
Totton, who start pre-season training tomorrow (Thursday), will keep together the bulk of last season’s young squad who noticeably grew in stature during the course of a testing Southern Premier Division campaign.
It wasn’t quite enough to save the Stags from relegation, but players like Rob Flooks, Zac Mouland and ex-Saints academy goalkeeper Steve Mowthorpe will be all the richer for the experience.
One player who won’t be regularly available next term is former Fawley midfielder Lewis Ross, who is off to university in Bedford.
“Lewis leaves for uni at the end of September but he’s signed on again and will make himself available when he can,” Riley explained.