JOSH Hancock, Witton Albion’s leading goalscorer this season, has agreed to play next season for newly-crowned Skrill North champions AFC Telford United.
The attacking midfielder, a target for the Bucks since the turn of the year, signed a contract on Thursday after helping the Northwich club to avoid relegation from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s Premier Division.
He will play two levels higher, in non-league’s top flight, from next term.
“Josh can really flourish there,” said Witton boss Brian Pritchard.
“I’m made up that he will have a chance to test himself at a higher standard, particularly after he’s worked so hard in the past couple of seasons to improve as a player.
“He reached a point where he became one of the first I wanted to pick each week – a manager loves to work with a lad like that.”
Hancock, 23, hit the net 18 times for Witton during the current campaign, taking his tally past 50 in 153 starts since leaving neighbours Winsford United in 2010.
He had been Blues’ top scorer in the North West Counties League’s top flight the previous season.
Telford, managed by former Witton front man Liam Watson, tried to sign Hancock – who converted a penalty for Witton during last season’s Premier Division promotion play-offs semi finals – in January according to Pritchard.
“Josh declined to move then as he wanted to help us stay up,” he said.
“That’s shows the measure of the player, and how much he has matured since coming here.
“Liam has been spotted at a few of our games. Telford obviously rate him highly, as they wanted still to sign him after they won the title.”
Witton will receive an undisclosed transfer fee for Crewe-based Hancock, third in a poll of Albion fans last month for their player of the year, as well as entertaining the Shropshire outfit in a friendly before next season.
Pritchard added: “Josh has a great stage now on which he can show what he can do.
“He’s proved me wrong, because I know he struggled initially after leaving Winsford and as his teammate back then I wondered if he’d make it through that testing period.
“As a person and as a player, he’s changed so much since.”
What do you think? Can Hancock make the step up? How much of a loss is he to Witton?
Add your comments below.