Striker Matt Harrold signs a new contract
Striker Matt Harrold has today signed a new one year contract with the club, with an option for a further year.
With defender Michael Smith having already signed a new deal, the club are moving quickly to assemble a squad capable of challenging at the top of the league next season.
Commenting on the latest player to be secured on a contract for next season, Chairman Nick Higgs said: “We are very pleased that Matt has signed a new contract and committed himself to the club, initially, for another year.
“We look forward to seeing him return to the goalscoring form he was in before he sustained his injury earlier this season, and feel sure that he will be a great asset to the side that we are building for next season.”
Even though Matt hasn’t played under John Ward, the manager has been impressed with his attitude during his recovery from the cruciate ligament injury sustained at Gillingham last September.
“Matt is a player I have known about, even though I’ve not worked with him in the past,” said John, “and he is at a really good stage of his recovery and is forever pestering me to give him a game!
“We think there is a really good player there who can fit into this squad of players that we have and he, Ryan Brunt and Eliot Richards at the top of the team would be a nice selection problem for me as they all have goals in them.
“Matt has been out with a long term injury and that can be quite depressing for any player, but he’s kept himself involved and he collects the club fines, so he’s been a nuisance to the players as well as me!
“Joking aside, he has kept himself very much involved and when we are at home he comes into the dressing room and wishes everyone good luck for the game, something that’s not always easy for a player to do especially if he’s been out for a long time.
“Even though he’s not played since I arrived he’s been an important, and integral, part of the group that has gone out and represented this football club and he has represented it the best he can even, though he’s not been able to get his boots on.”
Initially a member of the Southend United youth set up, 28 year old Matt played non-league football for Harlow Town before moving back into the league with Brentford, whom he joined in August 2003.
He spent time on loan with both Dagenham & Redbridge and Grimsby Town before beginning a season long stay with Yeovil Town in July 2005.
In August 2006 he returned to Roots Hall for another two years, and signed for Wycombe Wanderers in September 2008.
He spent the 2010/11 season with Shrewsbury Town but was surprisingly released by the Shropshire outfit in the summer of 2011.He was quickly snapped up by Rovers new boss Paul Buckle, in the summer of 2011.
He quickly became a firm favourite with the club’s supporters and scored 18 goals, his highest ever return, in all competitions in 2011/12.
He has missed most of the current campaign after sustaining a cruciate ligament injury in our game at Gillingham last September.
On signing his contract, Matt said: “I’m really delighted to have been offered a new contract. It’s something that’s always on your mind when you get injured, but I’ve been speaking to the Chairman and the manager about a new deal for a while and there weren’t any problems at all and I’m now looking forward to being part of a winning side.
"I must add that I am very grateful to the Chairman and the manager for sticking by me all the time I have been injured and I hope I can repay them for the faith they have shown in me.
“I’m also looking forward to being in a team that’s at the right end of the table, because my time here so far has been quite frustrating because I think there has been an expectation that we would fare a lot better than we have.
“Hopefully now things will change. The manager and the players have been brilliant and we have been in great form over the last twenty games so let’s hope that can continue.”
With a pool of strikers likely to be available to the manager next season, he’s aware he will have to fight for his place.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the side next season. All of the strikers who have come in since the turn of the year have really impressed me. Everyone knows what Eliot Richards can do, and on his day he can be a match winner. Even though he’s only 19, Ryan Brunt has been superb, while Tom Hitchcock and Oumare Tounkara have both done really well.
“I think it’s all about having a group of strikers who can push each other and provide competition for places. As the older one of the group, I hope my experience can help them and the other players in the dressing room.
“Essentially, I just want to be part of a winning squad. I think that everyone can see how great things can be at this club, and I really do want to be a part of that.”