Mouth of the Tyne: What I missed while I was on holiday - and it was a canny bit

Sports reporter Neil Metcalfe is back to keep a beady eye on the 2022 pre-season friendlies.

Sports reporter Neil Metcalfe is back to keep a beady eye on the 2022 pre-season friendlies. - Credit: DANNY LOO PHOTOGRAPHY

I've just come back from two weeks of holiday. Couple of days away in Canterbury and then a few days back up home with the grandkids. Bliss (and boy do I miss the Geordie accent, you lot all talk weird down here).

I promised myself that it would be two weeks completely away from sporting news. Off went the Twitter notifications, the e-mail icon on my phone was hidden.

Of course, it didn't exactly pan out that way and I still found myself dipping in to social media to keep an eye on what was happening.

And man, was that a lot.

When you cover as many clubs and sports as I do, that is perhaps to be expected but it seemed to be a lot more than usual. I've therefore decided to write this, mostly as an aid to myself, but there may some of you out there who have missed some of it.

And if I have missed others, and I will have, that is for certain, let me know. But here we go.

I'd done Stevenage's fixtures for both league and League Cup before I went off but after I snapped the laptop closed for a fortnight, they produced the signing of the summer.

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Kane Smith has been destined for the Football League since he broke into Hitchin's first team. We watched as he went off on trial here and there but always just missing out on that contract.

He's made it now though and that is fantastic to see. He'll entertain for sure, cracking player.

Taye Ashby-Hammond was their other new signing, a goalkeeper in on loan from Fulham. He was down at Boreham Wood with Smith last season and this should be his first games in the league.

One player leaving was Ross Marshall, he has joined Torquay United, while Scott Cuthbert has joined Woking.

The other signing for Boro came off the pitch, Chris Ross taking over from Dominic Jordan as Chief Operating Officer.

Boro have already played two friendlies, beating Jersey Bulls 4-0 and Hitchin 3-0. Dan Sweeney and Jordan Roberts got one in each game while Elliott List, Danny Rose and Smith himself, against his old club of course, the other scorers.

St Albans City know their National League South fixtures for the year too, starting with a trip to Chelmsford City.

Clarence Park will welcome Oxford City first on August 13 and home fans will be delighted with the players retained from last season, no more so than leading scorer Shaun Jeffers.

The striker was linked with a move away from Saints, even admitting to fans as he walked out of the ground after the last game of last season that he was unsure of his future.

That was something manager Ian Allinson was determined to stop so he will smiling from ear to ear, as he will be with others.

Zane Banton, Liam Sole and Mitchell Weiss are all staying while Munashe Sundire has returned from his spell in the National League with King's Lynn Town.

One player leaving though is Dave Diedhiou. He is moving back to Hendon in a player-coach role.

Another player who left in the summer, John Goddard, has signed for divisional rivals Slough Town, scoring on his debut in pre-season.

Potters Bar Town have waved goodbye to one goalkeeper, Hafed Al-Droubi moving on, and welcomed another, Emmanuel Agboola signing from Corinthian Casuals.

Finley Titchmarsh is another new face, the defender moving across from Royston Town, striker Quentin Monville arrives from Bowers & Pitsea while Lee Protheroe has also joined as first-team coach, he moves from Wingate & Finchley.

Talking of Royston, they have made some impressive moves in the transfer market, even if it does mean a break-up for the Welwyn Garden City band.

George Ironton and Jay Rolfe have both made the move to Garden Walk, as has Cambridge City's Jarid Robson while Ronnie Henry, Isa Rotimi, Dan Newton, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Carl Mensah and Matt Bateman have already agreed to another year with the Crows.

Welwyn have also seen Lee Close and Jon Clements join divisional rivals Biggleswade Town, who have also signed Royston's Dan Brathwaite, while Ben Spaul and Craig Arnott have gone to Leighton Town and Cockfosters respectively.

But the Citizens have made moves to strengthen their squad with manager Max Mitchell signing Gil Inacio Burunda Fal from Walthamstow and re-signing William Murphy, the former Hendon man having played just three games before a hamstring injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Two of their U23 side have also signed Southern League forms, Carter Doncaster and Thomas Gubb now available for the first team as well.

Colney Heath are back in the Spartan South Midlands League this year but manager Ant Burns has persuaded a number of his team to stay, as well as recruiting others with higher level experience.

Skipper Chris Griffin, Jack Mace Drew Whorms and Peter Mokwenye are all staying while ex-WGC winger Jordan Balogun and former St Albans City defender Fabio Bufano

There will be more to come and with pre-season friendlies about to explode into life, expect to see some players upgraded from trialist to full-time squad men.

I shouldn't miss them hopefully.