National League North Leamington have waved goodbye to their top scorer Josh March after he was snapped up by League Two Forest Green Rovers for an undisclosed fee.
Forest Green are reported to have beaten off competition from clubs as high as the Championship on Monday to sign the 22-year-old-striker who only joined Brakes last summer from BetVictor Southern League Alvechurch.
March, pictured after signing, netted 81 goals in 184 games to help the Worcestershire club win back-to-back promotions before scoring 24 goals in 27 appearances for Paul Holleran’s Brakes this season.
As part of the deal, the Brakes will also host the Gloucestershire club in a pre-season friendly at the New Windmill Ground in the summer.
? | The club are pleased to confirm that Josh March has joined @FGRFC_Official for an undisclosed fee. Thank you for everything Josh, and we wish you the best in your future!
— Leamington FC ?? (@LeamingtonFC) January 6, 2020
The Leamington boss told fans he was sad to be losing his star striker but thrilled to have played a part in helping him realise his dream of turning professional.
Holleran told the club’s website: “‘We are absolutely delighted to see Josh make the step up into the Football League. He had a number of clubs looking at him and he spoke to several of them, but has made the decision that Forest Green Rovers is the right move for him.
“He is moving to an upwardly mobile, ambitious club with good football people. Director of football Richard Hughes watched Josh several times, and in Mark Cooper they have a very good manager who I am sure will get the best out of him.
‘It’s been an epic rise for Josh and he has been helped along the way by some great non league football people, none more so than Ian Long and Richard Thorndike [Josh’s manager and chairman at Alvechurch].
“We’re just pleased to have been able to play a part and put the cherry on the top for him if you like. I said the same thing to Forest Green as I said to John Coleman at Accrington about Colby Bishop – you won’t be disappointed with the boy.
“These young players are infectious with their desire to succeed, and we will be keeping a close eye on Josh’s progress, as we do with all of the players who have progressed into the professional game after playing for Leamington.
“It’s great to see that young players do still have a pathway into the professional game and can get themselves noticed playing in Non League.
“Josh has really earned his chance with his performances and goals for us this season, and our greatest wish for him now is that he settles in quickly at Forest Green and hits the ground running, much like he did for Leamington.
“We wish him all the very best and thank him for his considerable contribution during his short time with us.”
Brakes chairman Jim Scott said “Whilst we are disappointed to lose Josh we are delighted with the tremendous progress he has made since joining us, and wish him all the very best in his career going forward.”
Position – Striker
Age – 22
Squad number – 28
Key stat – 24 goals in 27 games so far this season
— Forest Green Rovers (@FGRFC_Official) January 6, 2020
Forest Green Rover director of football Richard Hughes said: “Josh is a player we have done a lot of work on. He has a very good goal scoring this year and have watched him on six or seven occasions.
“He has got a really good pedigree, has scored goals on his way up through the leagues and, in terms of his personality, he is our kind of player, very humble, has worked other jobs and is keen to be stepping into full-time football. He fits our profile as a person as well as a footballer.
“It’s a massive step up but these are the players we want to give the opportunities to. We can go and do what other teams do and recycle the same League Two players, but finances dictate and we want to be the club that gives players those opportunities.
“He’s a natural goal scorer, is a confident young man and backs his ability.”
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Images & video courtesy of @LeamingtonFC & @FGRFC_Official/Twitter