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All-Change At Walsall Wood!

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Walsall Wood, relegated to the Midland League First Division, are determined to bounce back quickly under new boss Gary Birch.

The Wood have made a raft of signings, many from higher level clubs.

The most experienced of Birch`s signings is Peter Till, who joins from Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South neighbours Chasetown

The former Birmingham City and Walsall winger signed for Chasetown last summer from Stafford Rangers.

The 31-year-old made his first-team debut for the Blues in 2005 and also had loan spells with Scunthorpe, Boston United, Leyton Orient and Grimsby Town.

He signed a permanent deal with Grimsby in 2007 and went on to feature for York City, Fleetwood Town, Tamworth, Solihull Moors, Leamington, Halesowen Town and Stourbridge.

Joining Till in making the move from The Scholars is Chasetown legend Chris Slater.

The central defender joined Chasetown in 2003/04 from Wolverhampton Wanderers and was a part of their FA Cup successes in 2005/06 and 2007/08 which prompted Port Vale to sign him.

He made thirteen appearances for the Valiants before re-signing for Chasetown.

He became the first Scholars player to be nominated in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South team of the year and marked his 500th appearance for the club during 2014/15.

Midfielder Andy Westwood, defender Jack Farmer and prolific marksman Paul Sullivan have all joined the Wood from Hinckley AFC.

Westwood is a tenacious midfielder whose previous clubs include Halesowen Town, Chasetown, Bedworth United and Romulus.

Farmer is a versatile former Chasetown defender, who can play at right-back or centre-half and was highly-regarded while at The Scholars having come through their youth system.

Then-manager Charlie Blakemore put him on contract at the age of seventeen, predicting a future in the Football League, but despite a trial at Crewe Alexandra the move never materialised.

He had a spell with Coalville Town before signing for Hinckley in October 2016.

Formerly with Wednesfield and Chasetown, Sullivan made the step up to the Conference (National League) North with Hednesford Town in the 2014-2015 season.

After struggling for form and fitness during the early stages of the campaign, Sullivan was loaned back to Chasetown for a month in January 2015 in a bid to gain much-needed fitness and goalscoring form.

His second spell for the Scholars was a massive success, as he scored 12 goals in twelve games to help Chasetown escape the NPL First Division South drop zone.

However, he moved on to Hinckley last year where he again found form and goals.

Striker Tony Clarke, highly-rated goalkeeper Lloyd Ransome and Jordan Fitzpatrick have joined Wood from Hednesford Town, following manager Gary Birch from the NPL Premier Division outfit.

Clarke, who stands 6`2”, is well-known at Midland League level.

He joined the Pitmen in November 2016 having scored over 50 goals in the last two years of playing at Step 6 with Lichfield City and Bromsgrove Sporting.

Ransome arrives at Wood having served Hednesford since September 2015.

He came through the ranks at Port Vale before signing for the Pitmen.

Fitzpatrick, 28, who was born in Stourbridge, began his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers before moving to Hereford United in September 2006.

Jordan Fitzpatrick

Spells at Bromsgrove Rovers, Worcester City, Corby Town, Redditch United and The Pics have followed before his arrival at Keys Park in January.

Mitchell Tolley arrives at Wood from NPL Premier Division side Stafford Rangers.

Mitchell Tolley

Tolley, 27, is an uncompromising and classy defensive midfielder, who joined Rushall Olympic in 2010 from Bloxwich United, who he captained to the Walsall Senior Cup title – against Rushall – and back-to-back JW Hunt Cup championships.

He signed for Rangers in May 2016.

Striker Luke Barlone arrives from another NPL Premier Division outfit, Barwell.

The 29-year-old played for Birch at Coleshill Town before returning for a second spell with the Canaries towards the end of last season.

His other former clubs include Stratford Town, Atherstone Town, Halesowen Town, Shepshed Dynamo, Bedworth United and Redditch United.

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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