Ashington CFC manager Gary Middleton believes he has made his biggest signing of the summer.
It follows the decision by home grown skipper Andrew Johnson to stay at the Woodhorn Lane club.
Johnson, who lifted all the major player of the season awards the campaign before last, has put pen to paper for the Colliers after turning down overtures from a handful of other leading clubs in the area.
The 26-year-old, a project officer for the Newcastle United Foundation, who rejected an approach from Celtic Nation during last term, said his decision was based on having unfinished business with the Wansbeck side.
“I did feel as if I wanted a new challenge – but at the same time I never wanted to leave Ashington,” he said.
“After the way the season finished last year when we lost two cup semi-finals, I thought I was going to move on.
“But I have unfinished business here at Woodhorn Lane and I’m delighted because I have made the right choice to stay.”
Ashington born Johnson, who still lives in the town, added: “I love playing for the club as well as being captain and I think it will be a lot more rewarding winning things at Ashington because I am playing for my local team.
“The management have moved well in the summer to bring in new players and I reckon we have a much better squad with more experience than last season.
“I cannot wait for the campaign to start.”
Boss Middleton said: “We have made some great signings in the summer but none is bigger than Andrew Johnson putting pen to paper.
“We put our deal to him from his role within the team as club captain and spoke to him.
“He had two massive offers from other clubs as well as a big decision on joining a local rival, but he has made the choice to stay with us where he regards the role of captain as being a great privilege and is proud to do that.”
He continued: “I thought we had lost him – but we never pushed Andrew into a corner and left him to make his own decision.
“He told me he was very impressed by the new players we have brought in and he wanted to give it a real go.
“I was away on holiday when he made his choice – and I’m ecstatic that he is going to stay with us.”
Ashington – whose warm-up programme starts on Tuesday with a home friendly against South Shields – travel to meet Alnwick Town on Friday, July 18, before taking on Whickham at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, July 22.