BILLERICAY Town have announced two new signings in the last few days, but will not have the services of crowd favourite Lee Hodges next season.

The likeable ex-West Ham and Southend United winger, 30, has declined the new offer made to him by the Ryman Premier club.

Town have made four new signings ahead of the forthcoming campaign and will have long term injury victims Matt Game and Joe Flack returning along with skipper Jamie Dormer, who missed the closing weeks of the 2007/08 campaign.

Hodges enjoyed a distinguished League career in which he played over 200 games, scoring 27 games, and apart from Blues and Irons has had spells at Exeter, Leyton Orient, Plymouth, Ipswich, Scunthorpe, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers.

He had an outstanding venture into the non-league game with Thurrock before joining Billericay three years ago.

And it's expected that he'll again link-up with his former Thurrock boss Colin McBride, now manager of Town's Ryman Premier rivals AFC Hornchurch.

Said Town's joint manager Jason Broom: "We would have loved Lee to stay, but these things happen in football.

"We offered Lee and Steve Heffer new deals that were less than what they were on before. Heffs has decided to accept his which he will combine with coaching, but Lee has had a better offer elsewhere and has decided to accept.

"There's no hard feelings. Lee had a tremendous relationship with the crowd here and we'd all like to thank him personally for all he's done for Billericay over the past few years."

Hodges' career has been dogged by knee problems over the years and he undoubtedly wouldn't have been a 42 games per season man if he'd stayed.

And two of the newcomers are wingers - Steve Ferguson and Dave Wareham - who have joined Town along with East Thurrock full-back Ashley Dumas and Thurrock central defender Tim Cole.

Meanwhile, Broom admitted his delight at news that ex-Billericay man Chris Whelpdale had been given a new four-year contract by the Peterbrough United side that won promotion to League One last season.

Posh director of football Barry Fry, in giving news of the new deal, said that Whelpdale had been bought as one for the future 12 months ago.

But his tremendous performances during Posh's promotion-winning run, in which he played over 40 games, had led to his previous contract being torn up and the new deal being put in place.

Said Broom: "Chris is an exceptional talent and has worked so hard this season.

"I'm so pleased for him and, although the new contract means nothing to Billericay financially, it helps us to illustrate that players can come to us and make major progress."