Further to the news from early this morning, Bristol City Chairman Steve Lansdown has confirmed in this morning's Western Daily Press that they have agreed personal terms with Yeovil Town goalkeeper Chris Weale. The goalkeeper is currently out until Christmas with a cruciate ligament injury and unconfirmed reports suggest that part of the terms of his contract involve being able to prove his fitness at the end of the year.
Lansdown told the paper: "Everything is sorted out and Chris Weale should sign for us on July 1" thus confirming Ashton Gate's fifth signing of the summer.
Chris Weale was a Yeovil Town supporter's dream come true. As a child, he recalls filling his bedroom window with Yeovil Town souvenirs on the morning of the 1980s match against Queen's Park Rangers FA Cup tie at the old Huish ground and in later years travelling to matches like Merthyr Tydfil in the FA Cup. He was once a ballboy at the club and was even a mascot for a game during the early 1990s at Huish Park.
Chris was spotted by Youth Team manager Stuart Housley whilst playing for Gillingham Town (the Dorset variety) in August 1999 and he was soon drafted into Yeovil Town's Youth side, being their Number One keeper as they won the 1999-00 South-West Counties Under 18s Championship.
Chris was given a professional contract at the end of that season and after a year of playing understudy to Tony Pennock and grabbing the odd first team appearance under Colin Addison, it was Gary Johnson who gave Weale his break, gradually edging him into the No.1 position ahead of the more experienced Jon Sheffield, who ironically became his goalkeeper coach after Weale ousted him.
Chris also kept close friend Steve Collis at bay for most of his time at Huish Park, clocking up a total of 204 first team appearances and putting in the sort of performances that alerted West Ham United into giving him a trial at Upton Park. Injury though got in the way of what could have been a big money move for Chris as he broke his hand in a training ground accident and the interest from the Hammers waned.
Despite suffering a serious cruciate ligament injury during the March 2006 match at Chesterfield that has sidelined him until Christmas, there has still been plenty of interest in the 24 year old, and it was no surprise to find that City boss Gary Johnson was one of those chasing the highly-rated keeper. Johnson is taking a slight gamble on Weale making a full recovery, but knows that if he does, he will have one of League One's best keepers on his books.
Ciderspace wishes all the best to Chris in his new career at Ashton Gate, and hope he makes a full recovery from his injury. In particular, a big thank you, as with all of the outgoing 'old guard' for being part of so much of the success that the club have had over the past five years. Maybe one day, in 10-15 years time, Wealey will be able to make his return to the terraces once again.
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