TOM SHAW believes Ross Hannah’s return is a statement of Chester’s intent ahead of the new National League season.
The striker re-joined the Blues last week on a permanent two-year deal, having left just 12 months earlier to sign for Barrow, where the centre-forward was restricted to just 10 starts.
Thirty-one year-old Hannah, surplus to requirements at Holker Street, had previously scored 26 goals for Chester during the 2015/16 campaign, and assistant player/manager Shaw feels the signing is testament to the player wanting to return to the club and work under boss Jon McCarthy.
“It’s terrific news for the club,” said Shaw, who is set to embark on his first full campaign as McCarthy’s number two.
“The manager had it in mind before the end of the season so we began to work on it. Realistically we thought it was a long shot that we’d be able to get Ross back but we’ve made it happen.
“It’s testament to the manager that he’s willing to work round the clock to secure deals like this for the club, and it’s testament that people want to work for him.
“Ross is a good pal of mine and I rang him last week to have a chat with him. He’s been great to play with and I’m now looking forward to working with him from the other side of the fence.
“What you get with Ross is someone who chases down every loose ball, scores goals, harries defenders, runs the channels, he ticks a lot of boxes. And above all he’s a great lad with an excellent attitude.
“It’s exciting for the coaching staff to get to work with him again and I know he’s got the bit between his teeth after a frustrating year with Barrow.”
The 30-year-old admits both he and McCarthy highlighted the need to sign a proven goalscorer at the end of last season, with the Blues struggling in the second-half of the campaign to eventually finish 19th, losing eight consecutive home matches to round off a dismal conclusion to the season.
However, there is suddenly a mood of optimism around Chester with the addition of another new signing last week – full-back Andy Halls from Macclesfield Town – plus strikers Harry White and Nyal Bell who had already been snapped up last month.
“We knew looking at our budget that it might’ve been a struggle to attract a proven goalscorer,” he added. “It makes a huge difference to what you can set your targets at for the season.
“Not only have we found one but we’re bringing back someone who has a real connection with the club and the supporters, and is proven in scoring goals in every season he has played.
“Andy is a great addition too. He’s an experienced player at this level, he’s had four good seasons with Macclesfield. Again it shows these players want to work for the manager.
“Jon was completely honest with Andy at the end of the season and he seemed really excited to join the club.
“The manager’s reputation in the game is growing all the time and it’s a compliment to how professional things are now being run at Chester that we’re able to attract these players.”
Shaw has stressed the need to ‘sell the club’ to potential signings, with rival clubs in the region such as Barrow, Fylde, Tranmere and Wrexham all chasing similar signatures to the Blues.
“We can’t offer the money of many of the clubs in our league,” he added.
“Players have plenty of options but we’re really looking for them to buy into what we have to offer, which is a well-run club trying to do things as professionally as possible.
“The phone doesn’t stop ringing. I’m in contact with Jon twice a day and I’d like to think we sell the club as a good place to come and play your football.
“The reputation of the club is growing and growing and next season is going to be a good one for the club, and we’ll hopefully reap the fruits of our hard work in the summer.”
- Chester defender Sam Hughes is on the verge of leaving the club, with a deal set to be concluded in the next 24 hours.
Hughes, 20, shone in the heart of the Blues’ defence last term and has attracted interest from Premier League and Championship clubs.
See full story in the Chester Leader