5:07pm Tuesday 7th January 2014
By Ashley Loveridge
FOREST Green boss Ady Pennock insists former £5m Premiership striker Lee Hughes isn't joining Rovers for the cash.
Pennock landed the 37-year-old former West Brom and Coventry City striker on an 18-month deal, moving on a free transfer from League one Port Vale after signing on a free transfer from Notts County last January, and has netted a further three this season.
"The good thing is he's come here to play and not for the money, which is a breath of fresh air because we've got this tag of being the 'money-bags' of the Conference, “ Pennock told the NLP.
"We know that players think they are going to come to Forest Green and get X,Y and Z. That's not going to happen anymore."
Hughes started his career with non-league Kidderminster Harriers before winning a £350,000 move to boyhood heroes West Bromwich Albion in August 1997.
He finished as the Baggies’ leading scorer for four seasons running, and a total of 86 goals in 155 starts earned him a £5m move to Coventry in 2001.
He returned to the Hawthorns just 12 months later for precisely half that figure, and though he couldn’t prevent relegation, he helped West Brom bounce back to the top flight in 2004.
Hughes was jailed after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving after a fatal crash in November 2003, eventually serving half of a six-year sentence before returning to football with Oldham Athletic in 2007.
A loan spell at Blackpool was followed by a switch to Notts County in July, 2009.
Hughes scored 30 times in the league as the club won the League Two title and finished with 67 goals in 113 starts for the Magpies.
Pennock revealed the signing happened after his assistant Dave Kevan called Hughes to enquire about another player.
"Dave knows Lee from Notts County and rang to ask him about another player at Port Vale. Lee said 'What about me? I'm not really playing at the minute', and it went from there.
"Hughsey is a massive signing for us. He's a top professional and will score goals for us like he has for whichever club he's been at-and I want to see that stupid dance he does when he scores."
Kevan, who worked with Hughes at Notts County, insists Hughes has qualities both as a player and a personality.
“He’s a clever player whose movement is good, whose intelligence is good, who uses his body well and who uses his strength well.
“He plays with his brain and he’s adapted his game as he has got older.”
Hughes is no stranger to Nailsworth after playing against Shortwood United in the FA Cup in November.
Vale manager Micky Adams explained the lure of first-team football prompted Hughes’ decision to leave.
He said: “We had a chat and Lee wants to play regular first-team football. Obviously with the emergence of Jordan Hugill we don’t want to block that avenue to him.
“The thing is he wants to play regular football and I can’t give him a regular place so he is joining Rovers on an 18-month deal, which he is happy with.
“We wish him well and we thank him for his contribution since he has been here, not least of all his goals in the promotion-winning season and certainly the big highlight for me was his three goals against Burton.
“He is a fantastic kid, he’s not what the perception of him is, he has been terrific and I wish him well. I have got great things to say about him.”
Meanwhile, Pennock has snapped up teenage left-back Jerome Binnom-Williams from Premiership outfit Crystal Palace.
Pennock has used his close friendship with Palace boss Tony Pulis to broker a deal that will see the 18-year-old remain at the New Lawn until February 1.
A graduate from the Eagles' Academy, he made his Palace debut in their 2-1 defeat to Bristol City in the Capital One Cup last August.
Pennock revealed Williams would have made his Rovers debut on New Year’s Day, had the fixture not been washed out.
Pennock said: “We're really pleased to get Jerome on board, and Palace believe he's got a big future.
"Ed Asafu-Adjaye has done a great job at left- back, but with Chris Stokes being out injured, Jerome will give us another option."
Rovers are set to play Hereford United in the BT Sport televised clash at the New Lawn on Thursday, kick-off 7.30pm.
Rovers welcome Grimsby next Tuesday, 7.45pm.
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