By Jon Couch
“He’s done it before and he’ll do it again” – that’s the message from Aldershot Town striker Scott Rendell to any fan who may be worried about a lack of transfer activity around the EBB Stadium so far this summer.
Last year’s play-off outfit face a frantic pre-season with no fewer than five key first-teamers from last term having already moved on.
Star striker Rendell, however, is one of those to have committed himself to a new deal for next season, along with strike partner Shamir Fenelon and fans’ favourite Jake Gallagher.
But with three of last season’s first-choice defensive quartet having left the club – captain Callum Reynolds, Chesterfield new boy Will Evans and longest-serving player Cheye Alexander – manager Gary Waddock must start all over again in piecing together a new-look side capable of making it third time lucky in their bid for promotion after successive play-off near-misses.
Such situations would normally heap extra pressure on a manager, especially with Aldershot one of those clubs looking to tighten the purse strings, but not Waddock.
The former Republic of Ireland international still has plenty of brownie points in the bag after winning the Conference title with the Shots in his first spell at the club in 2007-08 and remains totally unfazed by the prospect of leading a threadbare squad into the month of July.
Indeed, when ‘The Wadfather’ first stepped foot back in the club two years ago, he had just two players on his books but still managed to guide the Shots into the play-offs at the first time of asking.
Rendell was among his marquee signings that summer after making the controversial switch from rivals Woking – now after committing himself to a third season at his spiritual home, the former Luton Town and Cambridge striker is backing the boss to get things right once again.
Waddock has already dipped into the market to bring in former Staines and Dartford winger Luke Wanadio from Bromley, and Rendell insists there’s no need to panic with more arrivals on the way.
“It’s been a relatively quiet summer so far but the gaffer always recruits well and I’m sure he will again, we trust him totally,” said Rendell, who scored 12 goals for the Shots last season.
“When I first joined the club he had four players in the squad, but he still went on to take us into the play-offs with a really good side which gelled really well together almost straight away.
“Yes, we’ve lost some top players, that’s football, but we’ve also got the core of a very good side here so there’s absolutely no need for anyone to panic, I’m sure.”
As it stands, Rendell is one of ten names on Waddock’s squad list for next season with the likes of goalkeeper Jake Cole, full-back Lewis Kinsella and Rendell’s long-term strike partner Matt McClure already having signed extended deals.
As you’d expect with a man of his pedigree, the 31-year-old wasn’t short of offers elsewhere but Rendell insists there was no chance of him leaving the club where he served his apprenticeship as a teenager.
“I’m very, very happy here,” he added. “I can see the potential the group has to get back into the Football League and when the opportunity came up it really didn’t take long for me to say yes and sign a new deal.
“We just fell short again last year, which was disappointing, but it’s given everyone an extra year’s experience at this level. That can only stand us in good stead for next season when we look to go one step further.”
With Reynolds having now signed for National League newcomers Barnet, vice-skipper Rendell will have one eye on reclaiming the captain’s armband for next season – a job he proudly describes as “a privilege and an honour”.
But one role the striker will not be playing next season is that of pantomime villain after his former club Woking – still bitter at their man’s switch across the Surrey/Hampshire border in 2016 – were relegated into National League South.
Not that Rendell takes any pleasure in seeing the Cards’ boo-boys suffer.
“It’s genuinely sad for me to see Woking go down, it’s always sad to see one of your former clubs be relegated,” he added. “I had three happy years there but they’ve got a manager who knows what he’s doing in Alan Dowson and I’m sure they’ll be back to give me some stick the following year!”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday
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