Signing of Bury Town defender signals Ryman Premier League rivals’ Leiston’s intent

Steve Ball

Steve Ball - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Leiston manager Steve Ball believes the capture of Bury Town captain Tom Bullard signals the Blues’ intent to challenge at the top end of the Ryman Premier League next season.

The central defensive stalwart, who made almost 400 appearances for Leiston’s rivals, has penned a two-year deal at Victory Road, following 10 successful years at Ram Meadow.

He will be joined by former Bury midfielder Craig Parker, who has signed a new contact at the club, while Ball remains keen on AFC Sudbury’s Scott Mitchell and bolstering his attacking options.

“I said during the real good run we had last season, that I wanted to make a real challenge in this league and I think our actions speak louder than any words, it’s a big coup,” said Ball.

“I don’t think there will be many better signings this summer, especially in our area, and in my opinion he the top centre-half in our division.

“As soon as I knew there was a possibility of getting him, it was full steam ahead and I have got to thank our director of football David Bugg who has done lots of work to make this happen.

“We lacked a little bit at certain times last season and when you are going away from home to the big London clubs on a regular basis, you need strong, vocal characters, with aggression, like Tom.”

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Ball has been chasing the in-demand defender for a number of weeks but has had to be patient in landing his man.

“There has been a week of Tom going through things in his head as for him, it was a massive move to leave Bury Town,” said Ball.

“He has been such a great servant and it took quite a lot for him to leave, but I am over the moon to get him.”

Bullard was equally delighted to make the switch to Victory Road, but insists it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

“I have been contemplating for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“After talking to Leiston, I was impressed with the club’s ambition and I really feel I have made the right decision.

“I want to play higher and that was my main question to them (Leiston), did they have ambitions to play in Conference South?

“They said they did and I am looking forward to playing at Leiston under Steve Ball.

“It was always going to be a case of following my head or my heart but I think my mind was made up before Richard Wilkins that I wanted to leave.

“With what has been going on off the field (at Bury), I was not enjoying my football and with a young daughter, I did not want to be going home miserable. I wanted to get that buzz back.”

Ball has also persuaded Parker to return to the club, the ex-Chelmsford midfielder having initially joined Leiston last summer.

“He came to the club with a big reputation and he will probably say himself that he did not hit the heights that he maybe wanted,” added Ball.

“That said, he still ended up as our top scorer.”

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