Grantham Town swell squad further
Grantham Town have this week continued to bolster their squad with some exciting new additions – plus some familiar faces.
Twenty-six-year-old midfielder James Baxendale spent four years at Walsall, making more than 100 Football League appearances for the Saddlers.
After a short spell at Mansfield Town, James played in the United States, then had spells with Alfreton and Kidderminster Harriers.
He finished last season at Mickleover Sports.
After putting pen to paper, freshley signed Baxendale said: "The last two seasons have been tough, I've not had a real chance to settle. Getting signed up early has been great.
"I'm ready to get a full season under my belt and I'm looking forward to being part of a group of lads that want to work hard and win together."
Rawden added "We're building the squad, we want to hit the start of pre-season with the main nucleus in place, but the door is always open for players to come in and impress."
Mansfield-born 24-year-old defender Jack Broadhead started his career at Chesterfield, gaining experience of the Evo-Stik League with loan spells at Buxton, Worksop, Matlock and Frickley.
In 2015, he was released by Chesterfield and joined Mickleover Sports where he made 32 appearances in the Premier Division.
On deadline day in 2017, he joined Boston United. Broadhead spent the majority of last season at AFC Mansfield.
Gingerbreads joint manager Paul Rawden said: "We're looking for players that have got the experience and knowledge of being in this division. Jack has that, having had numerous spells at different clubs.
"We all know it's a very tough, competitive league. Jack is a tall lad, he's strong in the air and is known to pop up with a goal or two from corners, something we lacked last season."
Broadhead said he was pleased to sign for the Gingerbreads: "Grantham are a big club and I was delighted to get the call from Paul. He's explained what he wants from the squad and how we need to get to up to speed very quickly.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know everybody at the club and hearing the supporters I've been told about."
Experienced striker Craig Westcarr is another new signing by managerial duo Rawden and Russ Cousins.
The 34-year-old started his career at Nottingham Forest before having spells at Notts County, Chesterfield, Walsall, Portsmouth and Mansfield Town in the Football League. Westcarr also represented England at numerous youth levels.
More recently, Westcarr spent the majority of last season with Matlock Town after joining them in September on dual registration forms from Boston United, with Craig ending the season as the Gladiators' top scorer.
Rawden said: "In addition to knowing our league, Craig has experience at a higher level, and he scores goals wherever he's been. Scoring goals was our biggest issue towards the end of the season.
"Craig got 16 goals last season in this division, and we feel he's still got plenty of goals left in him, as well as the know-how that his experience will bring."
Westcarr added: "I've seen the other players that have come in and they've said the same. They've been sold what Paul and Russ want from their squad and I'm no different.
"Pre-season is going to be hard work, but it's what I want. We're going to start pre-season as a good group, looking to be at our best for the club and its supporters."
Two familiar faces have returned to The Meres in the shape of Gregg Smith and Fernando Toxtle-Bell.
Toxtle-Bell joined the Gingerbreads on loan last season from Basford United, scoring three times in his nine appearances. He was recalled before Rawden and Cousins arrived at the club.
Rawden said: "When we came, Fernando was the name on everyone's lips. He had made a great impression on a lot of people at the club, so obviously we're delighted to have signed him. He's hard working and creative, and we envisage he will do an excellent job and continue to make great impressions on people."
Forward Smith was last with the club in 2014 before he moved to Kings Lynn. Since then, he has spent time at Tamworth, Boston United, Brackley Town and Stamford.
In his previous 89 appearances for the Gingerbreads, Smith bagged 32 goals.
Rawden was happy to see Smith back at the club: "We know that having a fully fit and happy Gregg gets us goals at this level. Before signing him, we've told him what we want and expect from him when he pulls on the shirt.
"He's a handful for any defender and will bring a real presence to our forward line. Also, he's a Grantham lad and wants to do well."
Smith added "It's good to be back, there are plenty of faces around the club that I know really well. I'm looking forward to the new season and getting some goals.''