Maidenhead United had to see off stiff competition from other clubs for Sam Barratt’s signature this week, but the 25-year-old eventually decided to go with his heart in signing for the club ‘he loves’ for the next two seasons.
Alongside Josh Coley, and likely Danilo Orsi-Dadomo, Maidenhead feared they may lose Barratt to a club from the football league, and, while it was not an easy decision for the winger to make, having considered all of his options he felt the best place for him was York Road, at a club where he’s enjoyed his football and is close to his family and friends.
There were several offers from other clubs, but none matched what he was looking for, or was good enough for him to uproot his young family once again.
He had several discussions with manager Alan Devonshire and eventually concluded the best move to make was to make no move at all.
The past 12 months have rekindled Barratt’s passion for the game after a difficult, injury-hit spell with League 1 Southend United, a club now in the same league as Maidenhead.
Having recovered from his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury, he quickly found his feet in the National League, scoring goals for fun in the early weeks of the season, firing in a brace as the Magpies won 3-2 away at Notts County and scoring a hat-trick in the 3-1 home win over Solihull Moors. His performances helped establish the Magpies as possible play-off contenders at one stage, and Devonshire will be hoping he can continue scoring and creating goals for the side next season.
“After the year I’ve had I did have some aspirations to move back into the league,” Barratt admitted.
“But those offers weren’t good enough in my situation and, after speaking with Dev (Alan Devonshire) a lot, and considering my family and this being a club that I love, this has worked out to be the best for me.
“When you’re happy off the pitch, you’re happy on it as well, and that’s a massive thing to play well.
“This year we’ve moved back home and been closer to our family which has been nice. We’ve also just had our baby girl, and you’ve got to weigh everything up in life. It’s a balance. She’s nine months old and was only three-weeks old when we moved back. It’s literally been a season of playing football and bringing up my daughter, but I love being a dad and can’t ask for anything more.”
“I’ve had a good year and been happy. All round this is the best choice for me.”
A major rebuild is again underway at York Road, with a number of key departures tempered by the signing of Barratt and arrival of midfielder Kane Ferdinand from Woking this week.
With Shaun Donnellan fit again following his injury last season – and three or four more signings expected to be announced in the coming weeks, Barratt is confident the club can build on its 13th placed finish last season and compete in a league packed with ex-football league clubs.
“We could have potentially had a better season,” he admitted. “But we still went to some places and got some good results. We’ve kept a lot of the players from last season, and I think the players who are coming in, like Kane Ferdinand, show good intent.
“He’s a good, goalscoring midfielder, and I think we’re going to do well moving into next season. We had creativity from midfield last season but perhaps we lacked for goals, especially after Shaun Donnellan’s injury. I think he’d have chipped in with a few and we’re excited to have him back next season. It’s almost as good as a new signing.”