AFC keeper back home

PCH - Richard WHiteside - Chester FC head shots from the photo call at The Deva on Saturday afternoon. SB140810HEADS-14
PCH - Richard WHiteside - Chester FC head shots from the photo call at The Deva on Saturday afternoon. SB140810HEADS-14
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AFC Fylde have made their second transfer swoop of the close season by signing goalkeeper Richard Whiteside from Chester City.

The 26-year-old returns to the club where he started his career and is sure to be Fylde’s No.1 for 2011-12 after last season’s senior keepers Lewis Edge and Dave Stevenson were both released.

Whiteside has been signed to boost AFC’s promotion push from Evo-Stik First Division North and is well qualified to do so, having made 23 league appearances for last season’s champions.

He arrives at Kellamergh Park hot on the heels of Lancaster City striker Dave Swarbrick and Fylde manager Kelham O’Hanlon is delighted with his second summer capture.

O’Hanlon said: “Richard has joined us from a team that won promotion last season, and he has good experience and presence.

“He comes to us with a good pedigree and he’s a local lad who wants to play for his local club again.”

Whiteside said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Chester but to play closer to home will be great for me.

“Kelham, the chairman and the president want to progress up the leagues and I am no different. With Chester and Chorley promoted, we have a great chance to go up.”

As for the departing Edge and Stevenson, O’Hanlon said: “I’d like to thank them both for their contribution in the last two seasons.

“They have both done an excellent job but they will now look to get first team football elsewhere.”

Young keeper Craig Unsworth, who has developed well in the past year under goalkeeping coach Neil Mitchell, is set to become Whiteside’s understudy.

“We feel he has great potential and he will also benefit working with Richard in training,” added the manager.”

n TOWN head to the North East on July 30 for a friendly against Northern League club Whitley Bay.

The pre-season game brings together the last two winners of the FA Vase, Bay having won the competition in all three seasons since Fylde’s triumph (under their former name Kirkham and Wesham) in 2008.