Poole Town have made their first “new" addition to their squad for the 2017/18 campaign – with the return of a familiar face in the form of Tony Lee who joins from AFC Totton.

Lee spent the latter stages on loan at the Black Gold Stadium in the 2015/16 season, contributing three goals from the wing to help Poole over the line in their Southern Premier League title win.

Arriving with fellow Eastleigh teammate James Granger, fans will remember the attacker for an audacious goal, where he scored directly from a corner against Histon Town. 

Lee hits a stunning volley as Poole edged closer towards the Southern Premier League title.
Another fine strike against Paulton Rovers was another highpoint of a successful spell with the Dolphins. Whilst Poole have been hunting for a striker and have always kept tabs on the 20-year-old, the signing of the versatile player has raised eyebrows. 

This is mainly due to the fact he had only just signed for Southern League side AFC Totton at the beginning of June, after his release by Gosport due to their relegation to the Southern Premier.

Lee became the first Eastleigh player in almost 10 years to sign a professional contract after coming through the academy, but never was given a proper chance to cement a first-team place.

Making a name for himself on loan to clubs across the south, Lee has become somewhat of a journeyman despite his tender age, enjoying spells at nine different clubs. (AFC Totton, Tiverton Town, Dorchester Town, Eastleigh, Poole Town, Gosport Borough, Whitehawk, Lymington Town and Cirencester Town).

A loan move to Weymouth fell through at the last minute at the beginning of the last season, but Lee’s last game at the Black Gold Stadium was in the colours of Whitehawk.

There, he linked up with former Eastleigh boss Richard Hill, but rather than being utilised in his traditional attacking role, he was deployed at right-back, adding another string to his bow in terms of playing positions.

At Poole, he largely enjoyed his playing time on the wing, on either flank, and also offers manager Tom Killick another striking option up top. During his youth, he also found playing time at the heart of defence, indicating a strong versatility to his game.

With three loan spells in the National South, Lee has proven pedigree at this level, indicated by his efforts in trying to keep Gosport up last term. A contribution of seven goals from 19 games gave Gosport a fighting chance in staying up, but ultimately the damage was done before Lee’s arrival.

Stags fans had been excited by the return of Lee – he bagged six goals in three games during his loan spell at the Testwood stadium – and the prospect of a prolific partnership with fellow new boy Craig Feeney, who was once upon a time a key target for the Dolphins and Tom Killick.

However, when Poole came calling for their former loanee, Totton boss Louis Langdown didn’t get in the way of Lee’s return to the Non-League’s second tier.

The youngster took the time to thank those at the club for their help during his brief stay, stating: “I just want to thank all those at AFC Totton, Louis and his coaching staff who have been superb with me and didn't stand in my way with moving back up to the National South. I have upmost respect for them all and I can't say a bad word about them!”

“I wish them all of the best for the season ahead, but with the squad Louis Langdown is putting together I have no worries about them finishing high up the league table!”

“Now my focus is entirely on Poole, I can't wait to get the season started and kick on for hopefully a successful season and help the club be in and amongst it again.”

Lee was also a target at the beginning of last season for Poole, with Lee suffering the frustration of another deal breaking down at the last minute. Back then, boss Tom Killick stated that the tight financial constraints restricted Poole’s transfer business.

But with last year’s top goalscorer Marvin Brooks departing for Salisbury, the Dolphins have a bit more manoeuvrability this summer.

Transfer dealings from Totton and Poole have tremendously benefited the Dolphins over the years – from the signing of the trio of Carl Pettefer, Jamie Whisken and Richard Gillespie from the Stags in 2013, who have all become established first-teamers, to the arrival of Luke Roberts in the 2014-15 pre-season. With the four now racking up over 300 games combined for the Dolphins, it remains to be seen if Lee will also become a Poole stalwart.

Lee, a similar age and player to Luke Roberts, will look to emulate his fellow attacker in terms of interest from clubs higher up the pyramid. Roberts has boosted Poole’s chances next season by agreeing a new contract, despite heavy interest from Forest Green.

Poole fans will get the first opportunity to welcome Lee back when a Portsmouth XI rolls into town on the 11th of July. Kick-off is 19:45.

30th June 2017 - Jack Tanner