Report by John Edwards
Altrincham have completed another exciting signing with an eye to the future after snapping up teenage former Port Vale striker Eden Bailey.
The 18-year old Stoke-born frontrunner has signed until next summer, with an option for a further 12 months, and is being sent out on a youth loan to Northern Premier League Division One West side Hanley Town for the rest of this season to continue his development in a competitive environment.
It is an arrangement that suits all parties, with Eden sure to benefit from the experience of first-team football at NPL level and Alty knowing they can recall him with immediate effect after an initial 28-day period, should they wish to.
It’s another example of manager Phil Parkinson planning for the future, as well as catering for the present with loan signings like Elliot Newby and Connor Jennings, and the Alty boss was delighted to add another prospect to the crop of talented youngsters he has recruited since the end of last season.
‘Eden is Stoke-based player, a modern-day centre-forward,’ he said. ‘He’s all action and can do most things well - hold the ball up, run the channels and, most importantly, score goals.
‘I first saw him as a 16/17-year-old for a very experienced Port Vale reserve team, playing at Burnley last season, and he immediately took my eye in that game.
‘After doing my research on him, it turns out he was at Vale from the age of eight and topped the scoring charts every season.
‘I think we could have a real diamond on our hands here, a lad who has fallen out of the professional game but has lots to offer. There are areas of improvement, as there are with all our players, but the full-time model and loan deal at Hanley Town should hopefully help us refine him and get him to the National League level.
‘I’m really excited to work with him, and hopefully he can be a valuable member of our new full-time squad.’
As Phil states, Eden was a prolific marksman throughout his years at Vale, where he made his senior debut as a second-half substitute for former Manchester United striker James Wilson in a 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Sunderland in August last year and went on to make his League Two bow at Newport County in December.
Pictured scoring for Port Vale in a pre-season friendly at Newcastle Town in July last year, he arrives at The J.Davidson Stadium with his sights set on continuing a family tradition for forging a career in professional football.
His father, Mark Bailey, played professionally for Rochdale, Lincoln City and Macclesfield Town, while his grandfather is Terry Bailey, who featured against Alty many times during a highly-successful stint with Stafford Rangers that earned him a £3,000 move to Port Vale in May, 1974.
Vale’s then-manager Roy Sproson snapped Terry up after he played an integral part in Rangers’ best-ever season in 1971-72, when they won the Northern Premier League title, finishing two points ahead of Boston United, and beat Barnet 3-0 in the FA Trophy final at Wembley for a notable double that became a treble when they added the Staffordshire Senior Cup top their haul for good measure.
We’re sure you will do the family name proud here at Altrincham, Eden, and everyone at the club would like to welcome you to The J.Davidson Stadium and wish you every success in Alty colours.