New Yate Town signing Lewis Haldane targets promotion from Southern League Division One South & West
LEWIS HALDANE is driven to win promotion with Yate Town this season.
The former Bristol Rovers and Port Vale striker is set to play in his first competitive match in almost two years against Wimborne Town in the Southern League Division One South and West opener on Saturday after becoming the club’s marquee summer signing.
Having retired from professional football through injury in October last year, Haldane is now combining playing part-time for Yate with his new job, where he is working as a driver for club chairman Colin Pick at Picksons.
Haldane only started running three months ago for the first time since breaking his leg, and he was invited to meet manager Rob Cousins when his pal Ricky Hulbert was in talks to join Yate.
The 28-year-old had other offers at Conference level, but he opted to join Yate as it is closer to his home in Chippenham and the job was thrown in with his deal.
Although Haldane is not able to train full-time due to arthritis in his ankle, he has got through pre-season unscathed, scoring three goals in four games, and remains confident he will be able to play regularly during the hectic league schedule.
“We’ve had pre-season games on Saturdays and Tuesdays and I’ve been able to train Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday and it seems alright at the moment,” said Haldane.
“I’m gutted I will never play properly again but when you’re out for that long it’s not about that. “I just missed football and being around a group of lads so being able to play football at this level is a bonus for me and I’m so happy that Yate wanted me.
“When I first started I thought I was going to struggle because I haven’t played for so long and I didn’t run for two years. The hard surfaces are really testing to my ankle, but it’s withheld it quite well.”
Haldane is one of 17 new players to join Yate during the summer and although his new team-mates may not be as recognisable to the fans, the former Wales under-21 international has seen enough in pre-season to be convinced they will be able to challenge for promotion.
“We’ve got some really good young players and players with experience. I want to be at the top of the league and I can’t see why we can’t get promoted,” said Haldane.
“It seems a really good club and Colin has got really good ambitions. Rob Cousins and Michael Meaker (assistant manager) are winners, which is a good thing.
“Some non-league clubs are a bit Mickey Mouse but in the training sessions everyone is working hard and hopefully that will stand us in good stead. “All the young players want to go higher and this is a good platform if they play well.”
Haldane spent much of his professional career on the wing but is set to play in his favoured position up front for Yate.
Although he is confident of scoring lots of goals, he is refusing to set any personal targets and is just happy to get back on the pitch.
“I just want to be in a successful team,” Haldane added. “I know if I’m fit I’ll do well.”
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