Duo sign on for next season
Tom Champion and Tom Bonner have signed for Cambridge United.
Both players join from Dartford FC, having helped the Kent side to an impressed 8th place finish in this year's Blue Square Bet Premier League.
Midfielder Champion, 26, started his career in the academy at Watford. He has since had spells with Barnet and Bishop's Stortford before racking up over 100 appearances for The Darts.
Champion was confident that United are a club on the up, and sees the coming seasons as an exciting challenge: "I wanted to join Cambridge as they are an established club with a big following.
“In some ways I see the club as a sleeping giant that will soon fulfil the potential it has, and I want to be part of that.
"The set up really impressed me and I was especially impressed by the long term vision and ambition that Richard and Jez have.”
Some players may see the reshaping of United’s squad as unsettling, but Champion is happy to be a part of an exciting project: "The club has a great history and that was an immediate attraction.
“I know the club is going through a period of transition at the moment with certain players leaving but it excites me to be a part of a new crop of players that can build and grow together. With the help of the players that have been at the club for a little longer I think we can have success in the future"
Looking forward to his first season in the amber and black, Champion thinks U's fans have a lot to look forward to: "I wouldn't have joined if I didn't think that we could realistically aim for a play-off place next season, but at the same time it's important that we give ourselves time to improve and grow steadily.
"If that means taking a season or two longer to get there then so be it. It's vital we don't try to have overnight success."
Some players struggle to make the step up from part-time training, but it's a challenge Champion seems to relish: "I can't wait to get back into full-time football and build towards something every day in training. Match days are what excite me most though, I get a real buzz from playing in front of the fans.
"I will bring a real hunger and determination to the team - I play with a defensive discipline and mindset that I hope will allow the flair players to flourish and get the goals! I am the type of player who will break up the game and help us regain possession. Every good team needs a balance of different types of players so I hope my influence will allow us to be successful."
Twenty-five-year-old centre-back Bonner has had a similar career path; starting off in the QPR academy before stints with Northampton Town, Rushden & Diamonds and Ilkeston Town, culminating in another well over 100 matches in the white of Dartford.
Bonner explained his reasons for moving on after such a successful season in Kent: "I had a good season with Dartford last year but I was excited to speak to Cambridge as it’s one of two clubs I would consider leaving for.
"I met with Jez George and Richard Money and was really impressed with how they sold the club to me. They have some great aspirations and vision for the way forward.
"Cambridge is a big club and shouldn't be in the Conference. I want to help Cambridge achieve promotion, and I really think we can make the play-offs next season."
Another former full-time player, Bonner couldn't turn down the opportunity to step back into the professional game: "This is a great opportunity for me to go back to full-time football – it’s every kid’s dream and I couldn't turn that down.
"I’m looking forward to bringing consistency to my game by playing week-in, week-out. I’m hoping to become a leader from the back so we can really push on this season."