Nantwich Town FC have announced the signings of
- Ritchie Sutton
- A-Jay Leitch-Smith
- Louis Gray
- Jack Sherratt
Former Dabbers Defender Ritchie Sutton Returns as Player/Coach
The 36-year-old centre-back previously played for the Dabbers in the 2009/10 season, making 40 appearances before being snapped up by Port Vale to step back into professional football.
His early career was spent on loans away from Crewe Alex, where he started as part of their academy. One of those loan teams, Stafford Rangers, signed Sutton up after his release by the Alex in 2007.
Spells at Northwich Victoria and Halifax followed, then after the Dabbers and Vale, over 150 appearances at Mansfield Town as part of the squad that got into the EFL, and 100+ appearances at Tranmere Rovers where he was part of another National League to League Two promotion.
A loan at Barrow, 2 seasons at Morecambe, and 2 more years at Altrincham, have brought him full circle back to the Dabbers.
Speaking on his return, Sutton said “It’s an absolute pleasure, being a local lad and living in the area, I’ve always followed their results since I left 12 years ago. I know some great people here, always kept in touch with the chairman and Dave, it feels good and the right thing to be back.”
Manager Dave Cooke said “Ritchie lives locally, he’s recently completed his A licence and I think he has the makings of a great manager in future, plus his knowledge of the club from his previous spell and his years in the EFL means he can bring a wealth of experience to the squad.”
Forward A-Jay Leitch-Smith Signs
Most recently at Altrincham, 32-year-old Leitch-Smith is best known as a product of the Crewe Alex academy, coming up through the ranks to spend 6 years as part of the first team at Gresty Road.
He was a part of one of the most successful spells in the Alex’s recent history, scoring a vital goal in the 2012 League Two Play-Off Semi Final away at Southend and assisting one of the goals at Wembley as they gained promotion to League One.
He also came off the bench in Crewe’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory at Wembley the following year, before departing the club in 2014 with 22 goals in 122 games.
Leitch-Smith remained an EFL player for the following 7 years, barring a loan spell in Scotland with Dundee where he bagged 6 goals in the Scottish Premiership in the 2017/18 season.
Spells at Yeovil, a successful season at Port Vale, Shrewsbury and Morecambe followed, before he accepted an offer to play under former Dabbers boss Phil Parkinson at Altrincham in the National League, where last season he scored 4 goals and assisted 1 in 19 appearances.
A-Jay spoke to us about his signing, saying “It’s great to be here, I’ve been talking to the gaffer for a while so it’s great to get it done. It’s good to be based back in Cheshire agin, there’s a great set-up here so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
And manager Dave Cooke said of A-Jay “A-Jay’s a class act, lives locally, and we hope he can slot in here. We think he has the potential to be one of the best strikers in this league.”
Goalkeeper Louis Gray Joins Nantwich Town
The 26-year-old started his career at his home town club Wrexham, with loans to Rhyl and Cefn Druids, where he played 13 times, early on.
He was then signed by Everton to be a part of their youth squad and made some appearances in Premier League 2 and the EFL Trophy, then more loans followed to Colwyn Bay and Carlisle.
He signed for Nuneaton after being released by the Toffees, then returned to Carlisle, before he made a loan move to Chester that soon became permanent.
And it was at Chester that Gray broke through and made 50 first-team appearances for the club before his move to the Swansway Stadium.
Manager Dave Cooke spoke to us about Gray’s signing, saying “Louis had gained some great experience at Chester, we believe he can settle in quickly and secure that position in goal”
Midfielder Jack Sherratt Joins the Dabbers
Sherratt started out at Kidsgrove, where he did well enough to be signed by Leyton Orient.
Orient loaned him out to Stalybridge, and he then spent a year in Canada playing for Kitchener-Waterloo United FC in the 4th tier of American soccer, a team that have since dissolved.
After his spell in North America, Sherratt joined Northwich Victoria in 2015, then moving onto Stafford after a second spell at Kidsgrove.
In 2020, he joined Hyde United, where he made 21 appearances over two seasons, the first being one of the Covid curtailed campaigns, before the versatile midfielder became a Dabber.
Speaking about Jack’s signing, manager Dave Cooke said “Jack’s local to the area, he’s been around our league for a few years with Stafford and Hyde, he did well against us when Hyde won at our place last year, he’s a player I’ve liked for a while and he should strengthen the squad.”