Atherton Collieries are delighted to announce the signature of former Chester and Stockport midfielder Iain Howard. Following his departure from Evo-Stik Premier side Nantwich Town last week Howard has joined up with his hometown club.Howard spent three seasons at Chester following a move from Ashton United. During his time at the Deva Stadium he racked up 111 appearances – the third highest for the club – scoring 35 goals. The attacking midfielder played a pivotal role in The Blues three successive promotions before moving to Stockport County last summer.At Stockport he linked up with former Collieries manager Alan Lord where he netted 10 times in 39 starts last campaign. A summer move to Witton Albion followed before linking up with former Ashton United manager Danny Johnson at Nantwich Town.Speaking on bringing Iain to the club, manager Michael Clegg said, “When I started as Atherton Collieries manager I said straight away that my main focus would be to bring together the best local talent. Atherton and the surrounding area is full of decent footballers and I regard Iain as one of the best in the area, if not the best. In that aspect he more than fits into the clubs plans.”“The plan with Iain is to help him enjoy his football again. He needs some stability and we can provide that here at Alder House.”“Iain has always been a loyal lad and his years at Chester and Stockport County illustrate that.”“This year he has been at Witton Albion and Nantwich Town but things haven’t worked out for him for one reason or another.”“In the past week Iain has had nine clubs from the Conference North and Evo-Stik leagues approach him but he isn’t sure that they are the right option for him at the moment. So while the phone calls are still coming in we are more than happy to help him train and play.”“At 27 years of age, Iain is just peaking. He is a phenomenal player who I know we won’t keep forever. With him and Mark Battersby we now have two of Stockport’s forwards from last season and it is a fantastic day for Atherton Collieries.”“Myself and Iain go back years. Over the last seven seasons I have helped him with advice and getting clubs, so if he can pay me back with a few assists, goals and trophies I’m sure we will both be very happy.”“If another club comes in for him tomorrow I will wish him the very best. I strongly believe that Iain should be playing in the Conference North at a minimum. He will be playing for Collieries for free so it shows the type of character he is.”While Clegg is open to the possibility of Howard playing only a minor role in the club’s progress this season, Iain is happy about the move to his hometown club. He added, “I’ve always wanted to play for Cleggy as he is a very close friend of mine. I am still looking for a club but at this time of the year it is very hard.”“I have some good friends at Colls both on the pitch and off the pitch and I love what they are doing here. I will be more than happy to help this project if I am needed.”“The club is on a terrific run and coming from Atherton that’s something that I am very proud of.”“I’ve just started hitting form at Nantwich and I am feeling as fit as ever so we will see what the next few weeks brings"