Ramsgate have added last season’s Isthmian League Premier Division golden boot winner to their squad ahead of the new campaign.
Joe Taylor has dropped down a league to play for Isthmian South East Ramsgate – his hometown side – in what manager Ben Smith has hailed an unbelievable signing for the club - but he insists the move isn’t all about the money.
Location was a key factor for the striker who has netted 70 goals in the past two seasons for Lewes - topping the scoring charts last term with 37 in 46 appearances.
Smith said: “It’s an unbelievable signing for the club, a top striker in the league above and it came out of the blue.
“We got contacted on Thursday that there might be an opportunity, I know Lewes didn’t want to sell him to a club in the league they were in, that ruled out an awful lot of his options.”
A deal was thrashed out on Saturday as, quite handily, the two sides played each other in a pre-season friendly. Rams won 3-1 and got themselves a top player too.
“Straight away people are talking about what Ramsgate have paid,” said Smith.
“He isn’t getting paid £20, of course, but he could have gone to 10-15 other clubs for more money if he wanted to push it, a lot higher, for a lot more money. If it wasn’t for the travel he would probably still be at Lewes.
“I know Joe had a great relationship at Lewes and with their manager Tony Russell. It has come to an end with their guys but they are top, top people.
“Training there eventually took its toll. He has a young family and I know he wanted to finish his career at Ramsgate, which he said to the chairman a lot of times, but for whatever reason he never signed. I think a lot of things aligned this year. He knows a lot of people at the club who he has played with before, it was the perfect situation.”
Departing Southwood in the same week, was Rowan Liburd, who has joined Sevenoaks for a fee - the side Ramsgate play in their season opener this Saturday.
“We are better off financially now than we were before,” said the Rams manager.
“Rowan could come back and bite us in the bum, but ultimately he wasn’t my player and you have to make a snap call on these things, time will tell whether it’s right or wrong, but getting a fee from Sevenoaks as well, I think we have done quite good business.”
Midfielder Bode Anidugbe, meanwhile, has returned to the club. He enjoyed good times with Smith at former club Herne Bay and the manager hopes he can rekindle that form back with the Rams.
“I got the best out of him and I said to him he has a point to prove going back,” said the manager.
“He was really consistent at Herne Bay but Ramsgate didn’t have the best of him.”
Ramsgate are away to Sevenoaks this Saturday for their first game of the season.
Smith knows there are expectations on his side but doesn’t feel any pressure, saying: “Everyone would expect us to go and beat them comfortably, but they have bought good players, paid transfer fees for people, but we are the ones that stick out because we are the ones with big names.
“A lot of people have talked about pressure on the manager but there is no pressure on me, pressure is running a club yourself as manager with no budget and taking the kit home, cleaning it, trying to keep a club up in a league, with no infrastructure, with all sorts going on in the background, this is enjoyable and exciting.
“There have been times where this club has struggled and got rid of players with no money, Ramsgate have had just 100 people watching, that is pressure, trying to keep the club afloat.
“This is exciting times. I feel like I have earned a decent budget and James Lawson (the chairman) with all the work he has put in to build the club to where it can attract those type of players.
“We’ve put together a fantastic squad. We’re probably looking light in one area and that is something we will look at as we go.
“When I first took the job they didn’t have experience last year, we have just got a whole host of experience and still have young players around it.
“People will see the big name signings but won’t see the fact that we’re regularly giving run-outs to under-21s, we have young players and Thanet-based players, we have quite a few players within 10 miles of the club, Alfie and Jack Paxman, TJ, Joe Taylor now, Louie Procopi who has not signed for Brentford yet (after a trial) and Lee Martin.
“We have a lot of local lads. In terms of the mission statement before pre-season, in terms of how we were going to build the squad, we’ve not veered from that. Joe takes that up another notch.
“We have worked hard, it’s been a long pre-season and we can’t wait for the league to start. We’ve got 38 games, the league won’t be won or lost on Saturday. We have a new team, we’re excited and we’ll have to see how quickly we can gel.”