Ritchie Sutton signs for Nantwich

Nantwich Town have signed former Dabbers defender Ritchie Sutton in a player/coach capacity.

The 36-year-old centre-back previously played for the Dabbers in the 2009/10 season.

He made 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.

He also had 100+ appearances at Tranmere Rovers where he was part of another National League to League Two promotion.

A loan at Barrow, two seasons at Morecambe and two more years at Altrincham have brought him full circle back to the Dabbers.

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.”

Nantwich 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.”

Nantwich have also signed former Crewe Alex forward A-Jay Leitch-Smith ahead of the 2022/23 season.

Most recently at Altrincham, 32-year-old Leitch-Smith is best known as a product of the Crewe Alex academy.

He came through the ranks to spend six 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 seven years, barring a loan spell in Scotland with Dundee where he bagged six 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 four goals and assisted one in 19 appearances.

Leitch-Smith said: “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.”

Cooke added: “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.”

ajay leitch-smith for Dabbers
Ajay Leitch-Smith

Nantwich Town have also signed two other players, goalkeeper Louis Gray and midfielder Jack Sherratt.

Gray, 26, has played at Wrexham and was part of Everton’s youth squad. He also had spells at Colwyn Bay, Carlisle, Nuneaton and Chester.

Sherratt started at Kidsgrove, and had spells with Leyton Orient, Stalybridge, Northwich Victoria, Stafford and Hyde United.

(Pics by Peter Robinson)

louis gray signs for Nantwich Town
Louis Gray
jack sherratt signs for Nantwich
Jack Sherratt

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