Former Bolton Wanderers, Lisburn Distillery and Blyth Spartans defender Wayne Buchanan says he is relishing the challenge ahead after signing for South Shields.
The 33-year-old, who captained Northern Irish side Distillery and represented them in the Europa League, played under Shields assistant manager Gary Middleton at Ashington last season.
The ambition of the club convinced me to join, as did the fact the club was so keen for me to come in. It just felt right for me.Wayne Buchanan
His other former clubs include Gateshead, Chesterfield, Gold Coast United and Brisbane Olympic, while he represented Northern Ireland up to under-23 level.
Buchanan says it is the ‘project’ of the Northern League Division Two club which persuaded him to join, and turn down interest from Division One outfits.
The former Blyth captain said: “I’m very excited to be on board.
“I spoke to a lot of First Division clubs over the summer, but after speaking to Gary Middleton and (manager) Jon King, I really wanted to get involved here.
“The ambition of the club convinced me to join, as did the fact the club was so keen for me to come in. It just felt right for me.
“The project we have here, with good characters in the dressing room and the ambition of going up the ladder, is great.
“We’ll have to take it one game at a time and one season at a time, but it’s nice that there’s a target there and the club wants to progress.”
Shields’ players have been involved in four training sessions since returning for pre-season last Saturday, with two more scheduled ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Darlington.
Buchanan has been impressed with the standard of his new team-mates, who include former Hartlepool United forward David Foley, ex-Shields favourite Leepaul Scroggins and former Hebburn captain Lee McMahon.
He added: “The training has been very sharp, and you can see everyone is wanting to stake a claim for the season.
“We’ve got players who’ve played at pro level, as well as the First Division of the Northern League, and I’ve been impressed with the players who were here last season as well.
“I hope I’ll be able to help with my experience. I like to stay at clubs for long periods, as I did at Lisburn Distillery, where I was captain for most of my time there, played in Europe and had great experiences.
“Hopefully I can have a sustained period here, do well for a few seasons and finish my career here on a high.”
Shields are hoping for a bumper crowd at Saturday’s 3pm kick-off against Darlington in what will be their first game back at Mariners Park since their two-year exile in Peterlee ended.
Buchanan is very keen to be involved in the occasion.
He said: “We’ve got Darlo coming up now, and we’ll be up against a good pedigree of players who I’ve played against before.
“We’re hopefully going to have a big crowd, so these are the sort of games you want to be involved in.
“Results in pre-season aren’t the be all and end all, but I always like to get off with good habits, and if you’re winning, it’s a good habit to get into. That’s what you want, but the main thing is to get things right and be ready for that first league game.”
Shields have also completed the signing of Bedlington Terriers striker Lee Scott, who scored 21 goals in Northern League Division One last season.
Meanwhile, the club will play FA Vase champions North Shields at Mariners Park on Wednesday, July 22.