FANS' favourite Ashley Hemmings is targeting an instant return to the National League after signing a new one-year deal with Kidderminster Harriers.

The 33-year-old scored 15 goals last season in all competitions despite Harriers' struggles in being relegated straight back to National League North after just one year in non-league's top flight.

Former Wolves and Walsall player Hemmings, who first signed for the Aggborough club in 2019, is optimistic about his side's chances in 2024-25 but they will have to do it without skipper Shane Byrne.

The influential ex-Brackley Town midfielder, 31, who was badly missed last season when out injured, has been unable to agree a new deal with Harriers who are now left looking for a key signing or two to control the game in the engine room.

But Hemmings has seen many players come and go during his five years at the club and said: “It’s been a great ride and I want to continue that.

“I think everybody knows how much Kidderminster means to me, joining in 2019.

“I fit in straight away. I felt the presence of the club, it’s a family club.

“The fans are brilliant and the staff I’ve worked with, the players, it’s been incredible.

“For me, being a local lad as well, I want the best for the club. I know last season we got relegated but I can see we’ve got another opportunity to get promoted and I want to be involved in that.

“The thing that I love about this club is that the fans will stick with us.

"We’ve got a great fan base. I know last season they were devastated but they’ll be behind us to make sure that we get back up there. It will happen.”

Byrne, who has made over 60 appearances for Harriers across two seasons including 50 in the 2022-23 promotion campaign, was out of contract this summer.

The club tabled new terms to the former Boston United man but manager Phil Brown said: “When a team gets relegated, regardless of who is responsible for it, you’ve got to cut your cloth accordingly.

“The contract we put in front of Shane wasn’t acceptable in Shane’s eyes and consequently I had to make a decision and unfortunately we’ve decided to go our separate ways.

“The situation is that Shane loves the football club and working with me but there is a cost where relegation is concerned and I can’t keep him on the same kind of contract and money because we’ve gone down a division.”

Meanwhile, former Harriers favourite Lee Vaughan, 37, has confirmed his retirement from playing.

The right-back played nearly 230 times for Harriers across two spells between 2011 and 2019.