CARL ROOK took little time in deciding to sign for Dover Athletic.
The big powerful centre-forward, who today completed his move to Crabble from Ryman One rivals Hastings, has attracted interest from AFC Wimbledon and our neighbours Folkestone Invicta.
But when he knew that Whites boss Clive Walker wanted him and visited the ground to view the facilities, he made his mind up quickly.
He said: “I knew Dover were keen to sign me and once they came in there was only one club I was going to. They’re a big club, the team are flying with a 100 per cent league record and I can see how ambitious they are.
“Folkestone put in a seven-day approach and I had to consider their offer. They offered me more money than Dover but sometimes there’s more important things to consider than money.
“Dover have a lovely ground, big crowds, a good chairman and manager – and quality players. Folkestone may well be in a higher division but I think Dover have a better team and will pass them on their way up.”
Carl, 22, has been a long-term target for Clive. The Whites boss even considered bringing him to Crabble in the summer but then decided to put the deal on hold until the end of the season.
But injuries to strikers Tommy Tyne and Chris Wright convinced Clive and the club’s board that he would need to add another frontman to add depth to the squad.
Rook has signed a one year deal at Crabble, with an option for a second year extension.
Carl, who joined Hastings two years ago from Kent League club Whitstable, scored 16 goals in 2003-04 and followed that up with another 18 last season. An injury has restricted him to just one appearance this season and he duly registered his name on the scoresheet. Now he is set to make his Whites debut against Newport IoW at Crabble on Saturday.
He said: “I joined them as a centre-half but found it difficult. Steve Lovell, who was Hastings manager at the time, played me in the reserves up front – as he had spotted something in my game.
“From then on, I never looked back and have been banging them in ever since. I’ve certainly enjoyed my football as a striker 10 times more than I used to.”
Carl, who is nephew to ex-full-time Dover youth development officer Carl Laraman, almost joined AFC Wimbledon last season but the Dons’ bid for him fell through.
He said: “I was priced out of a move last season. Hastings wanted a £5,000 transfer fee plus a friendly – but AFC were only prepared to offer a pre-season game, so the bid was rejected.
“I understand where both clubs were coming from. Hastings naturally wanted a fee, while AFC weren’t prepared to pay it.”
The striker lives in Sittingbourne and is good friends with new team-mates Lee Spiller and Tony Browne. So much so, he went on holiday with the pair in the summer.
He added: “I know a few of the boys and just cannot wait to get stuck in. I’m meeting all the lads tonight at training. The one downside about signing for Dover today is that I’ve got to wait all week until I can play. I just want to get out there and do the business.
“Dover are a good side and I’ll certainly get the chance to score more goals here than at Hastings. I’ve been prolific so far and want to improve on my goals tally at Crabble.”
Clive plans to add one or two more players to his squad but admits there may be player movement in the opposite direction.
He said: “I am delighted Carl has come to us. I’ve seen him play a number of times for Hastings and he’s always impressed me. He knows where the goal is and is a powerful boy.
“We want to bring some more players in but it won’t just happen for the sake of it. We’re not looking at strengthening specific areas – more a case of if there are players available out there who are better than what we’ve got we’re going to be interested in bringing them here.
“Obviously, the club has a budget and we may have to move some players on – but that is something we’ve got to look into. Certainly, no-one who I rate highly will be leaving the club.
“Carl will add serious competition for places up front and that’s important for any successful football team.”
Chairman Jim Parmenter said: “I’m delighted the deal has gone through. We want players who are hungry for success and Carl fits the bill. We are continuing our efforts to improve the club on and off-the-field, so we can get ourselves into a position to restore the club to among non-league’s elite.”