Chris Stokes has joined League Two promotion hopefuls Bury, penning a two-year contract with manager Ryan Lowe’s side from Coventry City.
Left-back Stokes – who can also play at left-sided centre-half – joins the Shakers after helping Coventry City to gain promotion to League One after winning the play-off final at Wembley, defeating Exeter City 3-1. He played 35 times for the Sky Blues during the course of the 2017-18 campaign and appeared 82 times in total for the club, scoring twice.
He joins Bury with 223 league appearances and ten goals under his belt to date.
He joined Coventry City in the summer of 2015 after a highly successful loan spell from Forest Green Rovers.
A former England C international, Stokes made his debut for the England C national team in July 2013 against Bermuda. Forest Green Rovers’ 2011-12 ‘Player of the Season’, he progressed through Bolton Wanderers’ academy after they paid an undisclosed transfer fee to sign him from Bristol City. After enduring a loan spell at Crewe Alexandra in March 2010 and captaining Bolton’s youth team, he became a regular in Bolton’s reserve side, before making the switch to sign for Forest Green Rovers in November 2010.
A former England under-17 international, he made his Forest Green Rovers debut as a 19-year-old in February 2011 in a home draw with Darlington and the attack-minded full-back quickly impressed, earning himself a one-year contract that was extended after further impressive performances until June 2015. In total, Stokes made 134 appearances for Forest Green Rovers in all competitions, scoring 7 goals.
Regarded as one of the best defenders outside the Football League, in February 2015, Stokes joined League One side Coventry City on loan and scored on his home debut in a victory over MK Dons. He appeared regularly, making 16 appearances, and helping the club to retain their League One status.
He signed for the Sky Blues on a permanent basis in the summer of 2015 and has been a mainstay of their backline ever since. However, after the club signed Junior Brown this summer from Shrewsbury Town, Stokes has decided to seek a fresh challenge and now moves to Gigg Lane to try and help Bury enjoy their own promotion from League Two.
After signing at Gigg Lane, Stokes said: “I’m delighted to have signed for Bury. It has probably gone on a while longer than I wanted it to, but I’m really happy to finally be here.
“Once I spoke to the manager and the staff I was really excited to join and to get it over the line.
“Now I’m here I just want to get things going and get working.”
Bury manager Ryan Lowe said: “We felt that we wanted competition for the left-back position and that Chris would be a great addition for us, as he’s recently been promoted from League Two to League One with Coventry.
“Chris knows what it takes to achieve in League Two; he’s a great professional and a very good footballer, who comes with a pedigree.
“Coventry were up there in keeping the most clean sheets last season with Chris as part of their defensive structure.
“I’m thrilled to have Chris on board and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
ACHIEVE Director James Garley said, “Chris has been a loyal player to every club he has pulled the shirt on for, he always gives his all, and he has really enjoyed his time with Coventry City.
“He ended his stay at the club in arguably the best way that he could by helping the club to claim a promotion in front of thousands of fans at Wembley Stadium.
“The opportunity came this summer to join Bury and they have shown a great desire to sign Chris. They have their own ambitions of promotion and logistically for Chris and his young family it was also a good move.
“After speaking to Coventry City, they decided that, after signing a new left-back, it may be best for both parties if Chris took the opportunity to join Bury.
“It was obviously a wrench for Chris to leave the club, he has had some great times there, and they are a huge club. However, Bury also harbour aspirations of returning to League One at the first time of asking.
“Sometimes in football moves just ‘make sense’ and all parties agreed this was one of those situations.
“We wish Chris, Bury and also Coventry City our very best wishes for this coming season.”