Forest Green Rovers’ recent addition, Cameron Belford, is relishing the chance to not just return to the English Football League – and full-time football – but, also the opportunity to work alongside former manager Mark Cooper once again.
The 29-year-old has signed for the English League Two club after being allowed to leave Stair Park.
“The pull of going back into full-time football and back in the English Football League, where my career started, was a big thing for me. With my family, especially my young kids who only started school last September, I think – after having a conversation – we would have gone back to England, anyways: more so for the kids sake, for seeing family, as well as my partner wanting to move south of the border again too.
When this move came up, it was just a case of fast-forwarding and fast-tracking everything, really. It was a move I couldn’t turn down for my family but also for me, to progress my career personally. I’ve got a lot to thank Stranraer for as they gave me the opportunity to come up to Scotland play regular, first-team football. At that time, I was at Wrexham and their number one, but, had fallen out of things there and I have been playing consistently ever since.”
Belford made 99 appearances for Stranraer over a 2-year-spell with the part-time outfit.
“I made it clear in the summer I wanted to reach 100 games, but, sometimes in life you need to make decisions… I have got nothing but good words to say about the team at Stranraer, the people associated with the club and I wish them all the best and all the success in the summer. There are some good young lads in there and they will become really good footballers in a few years time, if they keep progressing the way they are right now. I think the club are continuing to surprise people and, in my opinion, if they keep doing what they are doing, then they can finish in the play-offs and try to get up to the Championship.”
It is an opportunity Belford felt was too good to refuse, with the appeal of working alongside ex-gaffer at Tamworth and Swindon, Mark Cooper, a big lure for the shot-stopper.
“I have worked with the assistant manager, as well, at Tamworth, so, they knew what they were getting with me and I knew what I was coming into. I know what they demand from their players, and this was a big reason for me moving back down to join Forest Green as we all know how each other works. It is a very tough league: I have already seen in training that we have a very good squad of players filled with quality. I see no reason why the team can’t achieve safety this season and kick on the season after.
I think what helps with the transition is that I am coming in having played 90-odd matches in the last two years; I am not coming in having not played any games, so, it can only be a good thing that I am fit, ready and available if and when I am needed. The goalkeeping department at Forest Green is a very competitive one and I think that was the idea in bringing me in. I think fighting for the shirt can only help as the guy who is playing knows there are others fighting behind you, who are more than capable of playing as well, so, it keeps everyone on their toes as you all want to be able to keep that jersey.”
Tonight, the Green Devils travel to Exeter in an important midweek league match, with Belford hoping to be involved.
“I should be involved, as long as my international clearance has gone through. Hopefully then we can start putting some wins together and pulling ourselves to safety.”