INFLUENTIAL forward Oli Johnson has paid tribute to Guiseley manager Mark Bower for helping to revitalise his career after signing a new 12-month deal.
The former Norwich City, York City and Stockport County player says that Bower’s management has been key in getting his career back on track and he is relishing being part of the Nethermoor outfit’s maiden voyage in the Conference National next term – with the fixtures due out next week.
Two more of the Lions’ leading lights from their promotion from Conference North last season in goalkeeper Steven Drench and winger Wayne Brooksby have also signed on the dotted line for next season.
The feelgood factor at the club has been further augmented by the signing of former Leeds United, FC Halifax and Altrincham midfielder Will Hatfield, whose arrival followed on from the capture of vastly-experienced central defender Adam Lockwood from League One outfit Oldham Athletic.
Johnson admits that there was no way that he has not going to be part of Guiseley’s eagerly-awaited new adventure.
He said: “I am pleased to be staying. To be honest, it was a bit of a formality because I had a clause in my contract if they wanted me to stay and I am happy here. It was pretty straightforward and everything has gone smoothly.
“I had a little bit of interest elsewhere and had an agent call me to say another club in our division were interested.
“But I knew I’d be staying at Guiseley and that’s what I wanted to do and had my mind set on.
“It’s a top club and I have loved every minute since I have signed and I want to be part of the next chapter of the club, to be honest.
“I had missed over a year with an injury and when I was there or thereabouts in terms of coming back, Bowser (Mark Bower) let me come and train and gave me the opportunity to earn a deal and I have gone from strength to strength there.
“I am getting back to where I want to be, fitness-wise. I have been carrying a chronic hamstring injury for the past 18 months, but the club and manager understand my situation and that means a lot to me.
“Some clubs don’t understand this and you would have ended on the scrapheap. But Guiseley are fantastic and if I need to miss a training session, the manager understands. That is important as well.
“I am happy and enjoying my football and it is a club where I think there is something special going on.
“I am 27 and want to play as high as possible. But I know there are good things coming on at the club.”
The bookies may be tipping Guiseley to struggle next term, if the odds are to be believed, but Johnson has given short shrift to that.
T he Wakefield-born attacker is challenging the club to follow the template of FC Halifax and Altrincham and sees no reason whatsoever why they cannot consolidate in the fifth tier of English football in 2015-16.
Johnson said: “We look at clubs like Altrincham and Halifax as a benchmark and we also have kept the nucleus of the squad together, just like them.
“Halifax got to the play-offs (in 2013-14) and have consolidated and we look at clubs like that and think ‘why not?’ and believe that we can also give it a good go next year.”
Johnson’s faith is built on the fact that the majority of last season’s squad are staying together, with the club also in the market for more new signings as they aim to build a squad fully fit for Conference National purpose.
The capture of Lockwood was noteworthy, given the fact that he rebuffed the offer of a new deal at Oldham to head back to Yorkshire.
The re-signings of Drench and Brooksby are no less significant either and follow on from the club persuading last season’s top-scorer Adam Boyes to commit his future to the club.
Johnson added: “To see all the lads sign for another year or two is really pleasing.
“Keeping the squad together is a key thing and evidence of a good changing room and that is what we have got.”