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Story posted: Wednesday, 18th July 2018

Kettering Town Pre-Match News
“The best signing I’ve ever made bar none” is how manager Gary Norton describes ex Gresley Rovers goal machine Aaron O’Connor ahead of his return to the Moat Ground with Kettering on Thursday night for Gresleys latest pre-season fixture. (KO 7.30pm)
Former fans favorite O’Connor returns to the Moat ground 11 years after leaving the club in 2007 in a deal that saw him join National Conference side Grays Athletic.

Norton signed O’Connor from Derbyshire neighbours Ilkeston Town in July 2004 and he went on to spend two and a half seasons at Gresley, winning the Players' Player of The Year, Manager's Player of The Year and Supporters' Player of The Year awards in both seasons. O'Connor scored 80 goals in 127 games for the club in all competitions helping the club reach the 2005-6 Northern Premier league (South) play-off final.

Norton looking back on O’Connor’s time with the club told Gresleyfc.com, “We are delighted that Aaron will be returning to play in the game for Kettering and it will be great to see him again at the Moat Ground. Supporters love him here and he still has a huge affinity for the club and still refers to Gresley as “my club”.

"We have all been hugely proud of his achievements since he left us and feel we, in some small way, helped him become the player he’s gone on to become. I remember vividly first meeting him to discuss him joining us from Ilkeston where at the time he was playing on the wing.

"He wanted to play more upfront and I felt with his pace he would be a great option for us at the time and was very excited when he joined us. He was a one of the nicest guys and a genuine pleasure to manage and pretty much started scoring for fun for us from the outset. I’m often asked who the best signing I made during my previous 10 years in charge of the club and without doubt Aaron; the best signing I’ve ever made for Gresley bar none."

Since leaving the Moat Ground Aaron has had a fantastic footballing journey culminating in him scoring in the National Conference play-off final for Newport County at Wembley Stadium earning promotion to the football league.

After his initial move from Gresley to Grays in 2007 he left in 2008 to join Mansfield Town and then followed ex Grays manager Justin Edinburgh to Rushden & Diamonds which he was eventually appointed club captain scoring 27 goals in 78 games. He then joined Luton Town in June 2011 but in July 2012 was reunited with Justin Edinburgh for a third time when he signed for Newport County where he was a major part of the 2013 Newport team that finished third in the league, reaching the Conference Premier play-offs. Newport won the Final against Wrexham at Wembley Stadium to earn promotion to League Two with O'Connor scoring the second goal.

Since then Aaron has played for National League club Forest Green Rovers, before moving to League Two side Stevenage in May 2016. He joined current club Kettering Town FC in September 2016 and was voted the Fans' and overall Player of the Year for the season 2017-2018.

In team news Norton will take another look at central defender Kane Jellyman who impressed during Tuesday night’s draw at Stapenhill and also former Halesowen Town winger Cam Steele. Norton also welcomes back into the squad Alex Steadman, Eric Graves and Dexter Morris- Clarke who were not involved on Tuesday night.

Norton has also added 3 more of last season’s reserve team to his evolving squad confirming that youngsters Zakim Evans, Connor Ward and Joshua Garland have all signed first team forms this week.
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  Team P GD Pts
10 Marske United 38 16 58
11 Stamford AFC 38 -2 50
12 Frickley Athletic 38 -6 48
13 Stocksbridge Park Steels 38 -29 43
14 Lincoln United 38 -30 43
15 AFC Mansfield 38 -18 42
16 Pickering Town 38 -27 35
17 Wisbech Town 38 -27 31
18 Spalding United 38 -29 31
19 Carlton Town 38 -38 27
20 Gresley 38 -54 25

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