Ben Hodkinson has his sights on firing Marine into the play-offs after his ‘disappointing’ Bootle exit.
The 27-year-old was signed by the Mariners for an undisclosed fee as Neil Young ended their season-long pursuit of attackers with a double swoop, including Louis Britton from Chorley.
Hodkinson’s Vesty Road departure comes after the Bucks‘ impressive 1-0 win away at Workington amid a breakdown in the relationship with manager Steve McNulty which was tipped after an incident following their win against Danny Grainger’s side.
He departs as the club’s top goalscorer with 10 league goals this season. His goalscoring exploits follow on from his stellar showing last season under Brian Richardson. The attacker netted 26 times in all competitions, including 21 in the league finishing only bettered by Ryan Brooke, and was named in the Northern Premier League West team of the season.
“I’m gutted that my time at Bootle has come to an end, I’ve throughly enjoyed my time at Vesty Road I’ve made memories and friends to last a lifetime,” he told Off The Park. “I’m disappointed it has come to an end after an internal matter but sadly I can’t accept the apology after what happened and it’s best I move on.
“I’d like to thank everyone connected to the club, from the board and the staff. I want to extend my gratitude to Joe Doran for bringing me to the club, Brian Richardson for helping my development plus Ste McNulty and Carl Macauley for their help this season.
“But I must send a message to the life and soul of the Bucks – the fans.
“I’ve loved every single minute of it. The fans have been unbelievable, growing every week, I’ve had a lot of messages over the last couple of days, I’ve always got on with them since day one, there’s been some unbelievable memories when they’re putting in pictures of it, I can’t help but smile, it’s nice to see it all.
They’ve obviously taken to me, all I can say is hopefully they continue supporting the players, the club, it’s growing and I’m sure they’ll get success. They’re unbelievable, I’ll miss them that’s all I can say.”
The Northern Premier League playoff chasers won the race to sign the left-footed winger beating a host of clubs to his signature.
He arrives at a pivotal time for Marine as they sit three points off the playoff places with 13 matches to go. After the difficult decision to depart Bootle, Hodkinson expressed his excitement to make the step up – a league he isn’t unfamiliar with following time with Skelmersdale United.
“I’ve been speaking to a couple of people but when I found out that Marine and Neil were interested, I didn’t really look anywhere else, what I wanted, close to home, it’s an unbelievably big club,” the 27-year-old said. “It’s a league above so it’s a test for myself, can’t wait to get going, looking forward to that.
“I’ve not played at this level for a long time, I feel like I’ve shown enough at the current level that I can move up and hopefully now can show. I think I’ll be fine, I’ve got to start enjoying it again and start scoring goals.”
With playoffs now at the forefront of talk among Mariners, the forward is hoping to aid their hopes. He said: “I’ve looked at the table, the fixtures and they’re right in it so that’s another thing I’m looking forward to. It’s always nice when you’re playing for something at the end of the season so spoke to Neil, he’s desperate to get into playoffs, I’m sure all the lads are so hope to be a part of that.
“I’ve played against them a couple of times, I’ve heard them – they’re an unbelievable set of fans. I’m looking forward to meeting them on Saturday, hopefully push for the playoffs together.”