CHORLEY forward Darren Stephenson has joined Tranmere Rovers for a club-record undisclosed fee, writes Josh Vosper.

The Jamaican departs after four seasons at Victory Park, having joined from Southport in September 2012, initially on loan before signing permanently in December.

Stephenson made 157 appearances with the Magpies, scoring 62 goals in total.

He said: “I’m very sad to be leaving the club.

"The coaching staff, board and fans have been unbelievable.

"Of course, the decision was a hard one but I feel now is the time to progress in my career and test myself at a higher level.

"I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time and not rushed into anything.

"I’ve made lots of memories but the last game of the season against Buxton in 2014 will always stick out - even though I didn’t play.

"I was proud to win the league with Chorley and help take them into the National League North.”

Stephenson praised the Magpies fans for getting behind the team.

He said: "They have always stuck by us and I’d personally like to thank them all.

"The support we receive has been fantastic and hopefully everyone will get behind Matt and the lads during this up and coming campaign.

"I’m positive the club will be successful and Chorley will always have a special place in my heart.”

Chorley's assistant manager Jamie Vermiglio said: “He’s been a tremendous player for us, especially last season.

"He had a bad injury the year before and came back looking strong, earning himself a contact and working really hard for the club.

"He’s always scored goals and it will be a shame to lose him.

"Although as a club we’ll never stand in anyone’s way if they want to better themselves.

"Darren is definitely capable of playing in the league above and Janny has had such a positive impact on his football.”

He added: “Looking at the season ahead we are always looking to strengthen and we are targeting one more striker. It’s key to have options, especially if we play with three up top and there’s a few people we are in discussions with at the moment. We’ve already met with a few because we knew Darren leaving would be inevitable. Although it’s key not to rush into anything and we’ll have to see how things go.”

The Magpies were due to take on Euxton Villa last night (Tuesday) in their first pre-season friendly.

While Chorley fans will be able to watch the Magpies at Chorley Group Victory Park in the Jack Kirkland Trophy on Saturday afternoon when they entertain Preston North End.

They have three home ties in a row against Southport (July 12), Airbus UK Broughton (July 16) and Wigan Athletic (July 20) before travelling to Trafford on July 23.

The Harold Taylor Memorial Trophy tie with Bolton Wanderers is on July 27 at Victory Park and then local rivals Bamber Bridge entertain Matt Jansen's side on July 30.

The club are also looking for junior teams to play short 7v7 games before their friendlies with Airbus UK Broughton, Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.

All teams must be Under 8-11s. For more information contact Jonothan Gains -