Collins: Playing for Barton was a massive attraction
FOR Aaron Collins, the prospect of returning to a “massive club” in Bristol Rovers was enough, but the opportunity of working with Joey Barton only solidified the feeling that his future lies in north Bristol.
The 24-year-old forward joined the Gas as a free agent last month after turning down a contract offer at Forest Green Rovers, and he is already off the mark with a goal in Friday’s pre-season friendly at Melksham Town.
Collins was part of Rovers’ academy until the age of 16, and his career has gone full circle, and he says it was an easy decision to return to BS7.
“It’s a massive club and it shouldn’t be in League Two to start with, and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting Bristol Rovers back where they belong and even higher,” said Collins.
“The manager is a massive attraction. I met with him the week before (I signed) and I really enjoyed the conversation.
“It got me thinking this is where I want to be and he is someone I want to be working under.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in blue and white. I was at Bristol Rovers when I was younger and I’m starting off again now.
“I’m looking forward to it, but the past is the past and we’re looking to the future now.”
Rovers have been ordered to pay a six-figure compensation fee to Gillingham for the signing of Brandon Hanlan last summer.
A tribunal was held last month, with the independent adjudicator setting the transfer fee for the striker after the clubs failed to come to an agreement on a deal when Hanlan joined in August.
The Bristol Post understands the Gas were ordered to pay £150,000 to the Kent club at the tribunal.
Gills chairman Paul Scally said in March Rovers had made a “derisory offer” of £50,000 when the player signed.
Gillingham were entitled compensation as Hanlan moved to Priestfield from Charlton Athletic as a 21-year-old and he turned down a contract offer when leaving as an out-of-contract under-24 player. While the final cost is more than Rovers hoped to pay, it is understood Gillingham wanted much more for the 24-year-old.