Non-League Players Stepping Up

Since the likes of former Non-League stars Jamie Vardy and Michael Antonio making the step up to the Premier League many EFL clubs are now looking towards the National League to find the next hidden gem.

The National League season only finished two weeks ago however players are already on the move to bigger clubs. I have outlined the few major deals going on in the past few weeks.

Michael Ihiekwe (Tranmere Rovers to Rotherham United)


The former Liverpool and Wolves trainee kept 19 clean sheets at Prenton Park this season as they agonisingly lost out on automatic promotion to Lincoln then lost in the playoff final to Forest Green at Wembley.

Ihiekwe joins newly relegated Rotherham who will play in League One after a dreadful season in the Championship which saw them gain only 23 points. The 24 year old is expected to replace Kirk Broadfoot in the centre of defence at The New York Stadium.

Ricky Miller (Dover Athletic to Peterborough United)


The Ricky Miller transfer is probably one of the more high profile signings of the summer so far. The forward has been dubbed the ’40 goal striker’ after a hat trick on the last day bringing his goals per game ratio to 0.98.

Miller is 28 years old which is said to be prime age for a striker and he will be hoping that his second chance in league football will end in success after disappointing at Luton in 2014/15.

George Smith (Gateshead to Northampton Town)


Smith is a product of the Barnsley youth academy and made 37 appearances across two seasons in League One before moving into the National League with Gateshead.

He moves back up into League One with Northampton Town on a two year deal and hopes to challenge David Buchanan for his place in the first team during the 2017/18 campaign.

He is the only player in this list to obtain a fee for his services which is pure profit for Gateshead who signed him for free at the start of the season.

Danny Lloyd (Stockport County to Peterborough United)


The Liverpool-born player has scored an average of one in every other game during the National League North season and assisted 19 (all competitions) which is a great record considering he plays on the wing.

Lloyd has played most of his football in the North-West for teams such as Colwyn Bay, AFC Fylde and Stockport County.

Peterborough beat competition from Scottish clubs Hibernian and Motherwell to sign their second non league player of the transfer window. The Posh have a good record in developing non league players having had Dwight Gale grace the ABAX Stadium before moving to Crystal Palace.

Arthur Gnahoua (Kidderminster Harriers to Shrewsbury Town)


Being Kidderminster Harriers’ top scorer in the National League North this season has allowed former Macclesfield striker the chance to prove his worth in League One with Shrewsbury Town.

Gnahoua makes his first move to the EFL having scored an average of one in three appearances in non league. He will jump up three divisions and has been awarded a year long contract to impress in Shropshire.

Gozie Ugwu (Woking to Chesterfield)


Ugwu is a product of the Category One status Reading FC academy. He finished the season 8th highest scorer in the National League playing for a team fighting for survival which is a decent accomplishment.

Like most National League players he leaves Woking on a free transfer and joins Chesterfield on a two year deal. He will link up with former non league player Kristian Dennis up top for The Spireites.

Oxford-born Ugwu is said to have a great physical presence on the pitch along with the ability to score goals. His last stint in League Two ended with 2 goals in 29 appearances for Wycombe Wanderers.

Luke Armstrong (Blyth Spartans to Middlesbrough)


Luke Armstrong has helped Blyth Spartans to the Northern Premier League title this season; scoring 21 goals in the seventh tier of English football.

The ex Cowdenbeath forward will link up with his old youth team Middlesbrough in the Championship for the 2017/18 campaign. He will continue his development with the U23’s although Blyth manager and farther Alun Armstrong claims he has the option to bring his son back on loan.

Jamie Grimes (Dover Athletic to Cheltenham Town)


Dover just missed out on the playoffs in the National League this season, after only gaining four points in their final five fixtures.

Jamie Grimes joins team mate Ricky Miller in the football league but will play with Cheltenham who just escaped relegation from League Two by four points. The 6′ 1″ centre half has previously played non-league football for Kidderminster Harriers and Forest Green in recent years.

Most of these players making the step up are strikers which to me is no surprise as the bigger clubs will tend to scout these players based upon their statistics and goals per game.


Also let me know your thoughts on twitter, I’d love to hear your feedback! 🙂

Published by Dan Simmonite

Aspiring sport media professional currently working with Northumberland FA. Also write for the grassroots section of the Newcastle Chronicle.

4 thoughts on “Non-League Players Stepping Up

    1. Three divisions is a big step up, plus it’s his first move to the EFL. Will be interesting to see what he can do on a one year deal.


    1. Good shout Phil but I thought I’d only do the transfers from the past few weeks. With 62 goals in 36 games at the 10th tier he will be someone I will definitely be keeping a close eye on mind!


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