Hemel Hempstead Town fans have been left dismayed at the surprising news of captain Jordan Parkes’ departure from the club.
The midfielder was again the club’s top scorer last season with 15 goals in all competitions – just a season after netting 18 – and won the Players’ Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year gongs at the club’s end-of-season awards earlier this month
He was also named in the National League South’s Team of the Year and hit some memorable strikes last term, including a goal from near the halfway line and numerous sweetly-struck free-kicks.
The 29-year-old former Watford player also broke the club’s all-time scoring record last season, with his double against East Thurrock on March 23 taking him on to 108 goals to surpass the previous record held by Dai Price.
In six years over two spells at Vauxhall Road, the well-respected and talented player made more than 230 appearances.
A UEFA B licensed coach who owns the JP Pro Football coaching school in the area also dipped his toe into management last season, becoming the Tudors’ caretaker boss between late-September and late-October to bridge the gap between the departure of Dean Brennan and the arrival of then-new manager Joe Deeney.
But the recent arrival of new helmsman Sammy Moore appears to have ushered in a new dawn at the club.
An official statement from the club said: “Club captain Jordan Parkes has decided to leave the Tudors after he turned down an offer made to him by the management team for the forthcoming season.
“We had some great times together over the past six years and he managed to break the club goal scoring record this season.
“We thank Jordan for all of his efforts and wish him well wherever he decides to play next season.”
However, Parkes, who has also played for Brentford, Stevenage Borough, Barnet, Farnborough, Chelmsford City and Ebbsfleet United, said: “I’m absolutely gutted to say that my time at Hemel Hempstead Town has come to an end.
“The new management team have made it clear that I don’t feature in their plans.
“I’m proud of what I have achieved at the club and I’m leaving on a high after being named in the Team of the Year, winning [the club’s] Players’ Player, Manager’s Player and also breaking the club goal scoring record with 110 goals.
“I’m very disappointed to leave my home-town club under these circumstances but would like to thank the fans, Dave [Boggings, chairman] and the staff for the great memories over the six years I’ve been at the club and wish them all the best for the future.”
Tudors’ fans were left bemused and reacted with shock and sometimes anger at last Friday’s news.
One fan on Twitter suggested he would be ripping up his season ticket, while others predicted a relegation-threatened season. Another praised Parkes’ efforts and said any club who gets him will have a ‘bargain on their hands’.
Whatever the truth between the differing statements between club and player, it looks like new boss Moore and his assistant Jack Midson want to leave their own stamp on the squad and make afresh start.
Four new players with links to their former club Concord Rangers, who finished in the play-off places last term, have already been brought in.
The latest signing is 26-year-old defender Connor Essam, whose most recent club was National League outfit Dover Athletic. He has also spent time on loan at Concord and has played for Crawley Town, Leyton Orient and Eastleigh.
He will be joining three other ex-Concord players in the squad, 23-year-old forwards Sam Ashford and Liam Nash, and 26-year-old full back/midfielder Tosan Popo.
Meanwhile, another stalwart player of the past few seasons has departed.
Full back, occasional midfielder and even a stand-in goalkeeper on one occasion Kyle Connolly is leaving Vauxhall Road.
Hemel wished him farewell and good luck.