WITTON Albion have announced the signing of midfielder Billy Smart following his departure from their Northern Premier League rivals Marine.

The 23-year-old was picked by supporters of the Crosby club as their player of the year last season, and has been a target for manager Carl Macauley for a while.

“He’s a lad I’ve admired for some time,” said the Albion boss.

“We’ve kept an eye on him, and it’s great to finally achieved a breakthrough and be able to bring him here [to Witton].”

Smart made more appearances than anybody else for Tommy Lawson’s side last term, was a member of Marine’s youth team before making his debut.

He has played too for Bootle and Burscough before returning to Marine and spent time with Warrington too in the second-half of the campaign before last.

He is the first new arrival of the summer at Wincham Park, following the same path taken by James Foley last summer.

Anthony Brown and Paul Williams left earlier this month, and have both accepted an offer from Trafford while Steve Tames, leading goal-scorer for Witton last term, has signed for Welsh club Bala Town.

Macauley said: “There is some relief when you get a signing done, and this is one we’re obviously happy to complete.

“It’s proving to be really tough so far, and the truth is that we’ve missed out on other players who like Billy were at the top of our list.

“We’ll continue to work hard on selling the club to players though, and after finishing seventh in our first season back at this level I’m confident we’re an attractive option.”