Leiston sign former Chelmsford City and Braintree Town striker Cliff Akurang

Cliff Akurang

Cliff Akurang - Credit: Pixel8 Photos/Matt Bradshaw

Leiston have signed experienced non-league striker Cliff Akurang after the 33-year-old left Skrill South side Bishop’s Stortford.

The towering Ghanaian has joined fellow new signings Michael Brothers and Tom Bullard at Victory Road as manager Steve Ball prepares for his first full season in charge of the Ryman League Premier Division club.

Akurang, who has penned a one-year deal, has Football League experience with Barnet, for whom he scored 10 goals in 45 appearances and has also featured for Braintree Town and Chelmsford City during a nomadic career.

The ex-Chelsea youth team player will combine playing with a coaching role at the Blues and spurned the advances of Conference clubs, including Bishop’s Stortford, to sign for the club.

“To get someone like Cliff Akurang, who is a proven goalscorer and has experience playing in the Football League is great for us,” said Ball.

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“He is only 33. I say only because he is a fitness instructor by trade, and he has not been driven by money to come here.

“He had offers from Bromley, Canvey Island and Bishop’s Stortford, but he was prepared to sign for Leiston and he will be important to the way we play with one up front. He will be the focal point.

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“Since I took over we have been crying out for an experienced and proven front man so it’s great to get Cliff into the building.

“He will be a huge asset on and off the field and the fact he could have gone elsewhere and to higher-ranked clubs, but instead chose to join us, speaks volumes about our set-up.

“He took some persuading but he was impressed with what we are aiming to achieve.”

Ball remains in the hunt for more additions but admitted to being ‘staggered’ by some of the demands set by players during his first stint as a manager.

“Some of the money flying about is staggering,” added Ball, who works as a youth development coach at League One Colchester United.

“There are good young players at Colchester earning half what some people are earning at Ryman North level and I feel it’s a real problem in the non-league game.

“I have got a budget which, contrary to what I have read other non-league managers say, is not up there with the top payers.

“When I played and came out of the professional game, all I wanted to do was to get back involved again.

“That’s gone and some of these guys just worry about how much they will be taking home in their wage packet, which is a shame.”

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