Jamie Owens has described how the prospect of reuniting with Newton Aycliffe chairman Allan Oliver was a major reason behind his return to Moore Lane.
The prolific striker has already had two previous spells with Aycliffe and now he is looking forward to the challenge of spearheading a promotion charge.
The former Stockton Town, Marske United and Billingham Town front-man can’t wait to get going again in Ebac Northern League Division One.
Aycliffe’s pre-season kicks off at home to Easington Colliery on Friday night – followed by their biggest friendly of the summer against Darlington at Moore Lane on Tuesday (July 5) evening, 7.30pm kick-off.
“It’s great to be back,” Owens told Aycliffe Today.
“I have a good relationship with Allan and the club is great. It is spot on, nice and local, my family have been here before.
“I felt I owed Allan something and I always said I would come back here for him one day. We basically sat down and we’d effectively shook hands on a deal before we’d even sat down.”
The first time Owens was at Aycliffe he was up front with Danny Earl and Danny Lambert, scoring plenty of goals in a spell he described as “awesome”.
The second time around was a more difficult spell when a change of approach meant at one point the team was struggling to get numbers turning up and yet they still managed to turn things around.
Owens scored 51 goals in one and a half seasons, the sort of record that has made him a highly respected non-league goalscorer.
And he would love to continue to find the net regularly for his new manager, Aycliffe’s Brian Atkinson, who led the County Durham team to fourth place in Division One last season for the first time.
“He seems a genuine guy, tells it as it is,” said Owens. “I have met him a couple of times now, having spoken on the phone a lot.
“I know we are still looking at a few new players and have got a few in. Hopefully this year we can take it one step higher.
“Other teams are strengthening though, we aren’t finished yet. You never know, hopefully with a good season we might be in the top two.
“The Northern League will be five times stronger than last season and we have to be ready for that.”
So far Owens has been joined at Aycliffe by three other new signings, Dan Myers, Oscar Heckley-Aldsworth and Oscar Taylor.
Myers has arrived from Crook and is a left-sided centre-back, Heckley-Holdsworth is another with great potential and is a right-sided defender while Taylor is an ex-Boldon centre-forward who excites his new team-mate.
Owens said: “It’s great to see. There are a few familiar faces around still but a lot of new ones too.
“After the first training session the other day there were a lot of young lads and hopefully I will bring some experience and something different. Hopefully we can have a good season.”
Myers, who was part of the Crook squad that finished 15th, is hoping that the new arrivals can boost the chances of going up.
He said: “I am aware that Aycliffe have been at the top end of Northern League Division One for the past few seasons. I know a couple of the lads too.
“With the two teams going up from last season and the signings we have made like myself and Jamie, that should help us push on and hopefully help us get promotion.”
Aycliffe’s pre-season friendly with Darlington on Tuesday, July 5, kicks off at 7.30pm at the Beaumont Landscapes Stadium – admission is £7 adults, £5 concessions.
Aycliffe’s full pre-season friendly fixtures are:
Fri July 1: Easington Colliery (H) 7.30pm
Tues July 5: Darlington (H) 7.30pm
Sat July 9: Abbey Hey (3pm)
Tues July 12: Tow Law Town (A) 7.30pm
Sat July 16: Darlington Town (H) 3pm
Tues July 19: Spennymoor Town (H) 7.30pm