NEW signing Lewwis Spence has admitted that he came close to re-joining Thurrock midway through last season.
Spence, who enjoyed a three-year stint at Ship Lane before departing for Greenwich Borough last summer, has agreed to return to Thurrock ahead of the 2017/18 season.
And Spence is delighted to have moved back to the club.
Spence, 29, said: “Coming back here is something that nearly happened last season because I had a difficult time travelling to and from games at Christmas.
“I have a little one on the way so that was another reason why I wanted to return closer to home.
“When I heard that Thurrock wanted me, I didn’t think twice about coming back.”
The midfielder, who has Football League experience after spells with Wycombe Wanderers and coming through the youth ranks at Crystal Palace, captained Fleet during his first spell with the club.
A points deduction resulted in Thurrock dropping out of the Ryman Premier League and into the Ryman North in 2013.
But Spence, who was a regular at the heart of Mark Stimson’s midfield during that season, is confident that his new side will avoid the drop this season and should be looking to break into the top half in their first term back in the Ryman Premier League.
Spence added: “When you were captain of a club, you always want them to do well.
“So I always looked out for Thurrock’s results while I was away.
“I still know a lot of the boys here. The manager and boys all have a lot of experience.
“This is a great opportunity for the players to play at a higher level.
“Remi Sutton, Joe Christou, Jordan Clark, James Goode and Mark Onyemah are just a few who have played at this level before and are capable of playing at a higher level.
“We will be looking to keep the momentum we got from the play-off win and I think that we should be aiming for a mid-table finish or higher.”
Fleet boss Stimson is pleased to have persuaded Spence to return to Ship Lane.
Stimson said: “Lewwis was our captain when he was here before.
“He is a real leader and will bring experience and real quality with him.
“Players looked up to him when he was with us, and when we lost him it was a big blow.
“Lewwis ticks all the boxes and he should be pushing and playing at a higher level than the Ryman Premier League.
“He is one of those players that enjoys playing with certain players and for certain managers and that is good for me.”
Thurrock regained their Ryman Premier League status after securing a 1-0 win over Maldon & Tiptree in the Ryman North play-off final last month.
But Stimson insists that he will not be making wholesale changes to the side that won promotion.
The Fleet chief confirmed: “I think that the players that came in after Lewwis left did an unbelievable job.
“I wouldn’t say for definite that we will be bringing more players in because I am pleased with the squad I have got.
“Quite a few of our players played at this level before, but were very young.
“Now they have experience and over 100 appearances to their name.
“If I was going to bring anyone in, they would have to be at the same level as Lewwis, or even higher.”