BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent skipper Matt Cripps has admitted it was a “no-brainer” to commit to the club for another year.

The centre-half - proud to be named in a non-league website’s team-of-the-season - was a star of last term’s title-winning campaign and his heroics led to interest from rival clubs.

However, Cripps says he always planned to put pen to paper on a fresh deal at the Taydal Stadium.

“I want to play at as high a level as possible,” said the former FC Clacton, Stanway Rovers and Maldon and Tiptree man.

“I’ve got aspirations and the manager knows that.

“But Brightlingsea have given me this opportunity and all the players here want to stick together and test themselves.

“A couple of other clubs did show an interest.

“They were just conversations and nothing was set in stone, but I was always keen to stay.

“I enjoy being here. I like the fans and the whole club is run really well.

“For me, it was a no-brainer in terms of staying for another year and testing myself in the premier division.

“Knowing most of the squad were sticking together made me even more determined to commit.”

Regent made it eight victories from ten pre-season matches when they won 4-2 at Tilbury last Friday.

Aaron Condon scored twice and next up is tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited Bostik League premier division curtain-raiser at Tooting and Mitcham, which is swiftly followed by a home game against Leiston on Tuesday.

Cripps, who weighed in with five goals and six man-of-the-match awards last term, says he and his team-mates are excited and ready for the challenge ahead.

And he believes they can go into the campaign without any fear.

“We want to carry on from last year and keep our momentum going,” he said.

“We’ve had a few changes in terms of our squad and management team and it’s going to be a new experience for everyone.

“We’ve never been in this position before but it’s exciting.

“It’ll be a test for us and everyone knows it’s going to be a jump up.

“We’ll surprise a lot of teams and no-one will really know what we’re about.

"It’ll be a bit like when we joined the north division. No-one knew who we were.

“We’ll give it a real good go and there’s nothing to fear.

"As a group, we’ve said we want to give it our all and work hard.

"There will be times when we really have to dig in but I think we’ll do well.”