Caskey snub for Diamonds

ERIC HALL says Darren Caskey could have got more money by staying at Rushden & Diamonds, but insists his heart was set on joining Kettering Town.

The 31-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder had his shock move up the A6 from Nene Park to Rockingham Road confirmed yesterday. He will become reserve-team manager as well as playing his part in the first-team squad.

Caskey was unable to attend a press conference to announce Poppies' new signings, but his outspoken agent appeared on his behalf as manager Morell Maison announced five other signings for their assault on the Nationwide North title.

Hall insisted his player's mind was made up about a move once he had spoken to chairman Imraan Ladak and manager Morell Maison.

Hall said: "There were discussions with Richard Palmer at Rushden because they were desperate to hold on to him. We have to make it clear he could have stayed for more money and on a good contract.

"But we met with Imraan and Morell, and Darren had just taken four steps out of the office when he turned to me and said he wanted to join Kettering. This move has given him a chance to get into coaching as well as playing and that was something he was keen on.

"Rushden were not the only league club interested. He could have gone back to Notts County and I also took a call from Mike Newell at Luton Town about him.

"But he has decided to move into non-League and help Kettering achieve their goal of getting into the Conference and then the Football League."

The Poppies also unveiled striker Craig Westcarr, who has joined from Conference side Cambridge United, Andre Boucaud, who has arrived from Peterborough United and former Northampton Town defender Luke Graham.

The signings of Mark Burrows and Rene Howe, which had previously been announced, were also confirmed.

They received another boost when skipper Craig McIlwain agreed to sign a full-time contract.

Negotiations are ongoing with goalkeeper Nick Bussey and strikers Darren Lynch, Junior McDougald and Serge Makofo. The rest of the squad have agreed terms.

Kettering, meanwhile, released long-serving Wayne Diuk, Ollie Burgess, Jamie Paterson and Michael McKenzie while Ryan-Zico Black, Dave Theobald, James Gould and Chris Difante have also left.