Paul Malone is ready to “kick on” after his surprise move to Kettering Town was completed this week.
The former Corby Town captain joined the Poppies after having his contract at Stamford terminated by mutual consent and he made his debut in Tuesday’s 3-2 success over AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the first round of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup.
Malone was a fans’ favourite at Steel Park and played a key role in the Steelmen’s Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division title success almost 18 months ago.
But Malone has now linked up with former Corby team-mates Spencer Weir-Daley and Wilson Carvalho at Latimer Park.
And he admitted it was an odd feeling pulling on a Kettering shirt for the first time.
“It’s a bit strange but in football you have to be open-minded,” Malone said.
“If you had told me 18 months ago after winning the league with Corby that I would be coming over and playing for Kettering, I’d have asked you what you had been drinking!
“But these things happen in football.
“It was an opportunity for me to come and play at a higher level and I have always said I will try to play as high as I can while I can.
“Outsiders looking in will probably question why I wasn’t playing for Stamford but it wasn’t down to performance.
“In my last game for them against St Neots I was man of the match. It was just one of those things.
“But I got the opportunity to speak to Marcus (Law) and as soon as I did that I knew it was an interesting project.
“We got things done very, very quickly.
“In football, you make good friends and Spencer is someone I speak to constantly.
“I was under contract but I sorted things out with the gaffer at Stamford (Graham Drury) and now I am here and ready to kick on.”
Malone is now focused on trying to become a regular in the Poppies’ starting line-up.
They take on high-flying Dunstable Town at Latimer Park on Saturday and Malone believes the Kettering squad has what is takes to challenge for the Southern League title this season.
“With the squad we have got on paper, we have got the makings of a title-winning side,” he added.
“But I also know it’s not as simple as that. It’s about the grafting.
“I have come into the dressing-room and, even though a lot of first-team boys weren’t involved on Tuesday, there is plenty of spirit in there and you need that throughout the squad if you are going to win things.”