Stirling Albion can announce that striker Darren Smith is moving on after declining the offer of a contract for 2019/20 and is expected to sign for a new club within the next 24 hours.

The 31-year-old initially joined us from Ross County in 2011 then had two seasons at Stenhousemuir before beginning a five-year stint at Forthbank in the summer of 2014.

A hugely popular figure at the club, Darren scored 25 goals in 2017/18 and was again our top scorer in 2018/19, netting 11 times despite missing the early months of the campaign through injury.

Manager Kevin Rutkiewicz said: “I would like to thank Darren for all his efforts. It’s a blow to lose him because he would have been an important player for us, as he has been for the last four or five years, but the opportunity to test himself at a higher level was perhaps too good to turn down.

“Darren stressed to me that it was about a fresh challenge. He has excelled here in some difficult times and it’s up to me and Martin (Hardie) to find the new Darren Smith. He goes with our very best wishes – he has been nothing but a true professional and we have parted on very good terms. I wish him all the best at his new club.”

Chairman Stuart Brown added: “Having spoken earlier to Kevin, Darren phoned me this evening to confirm he was moving on and to thank me for everything the club has done for him over the past five seasons.

“Whilst hugely disappointed to lose a player of Darren’s quality, I fully respect his decision to take on a new challenge at a higher level than we can offer. I also appreciate his ‘heads up’ that allows us to break the news of his departure before the imminent announcement from his new employer. Daz will be missed but he goes with my thanks for his outstanding contribution over the years and best wishes for the future.”

Darren said: “Stirling Albion has provided me with a platform to play during my time at the club and I have always tried to give my all. However, I’ve decided now is the time to seek a new challenge.

“I would like to thank the players, managers, coaches and everyone behind the scenes for what they have done for me over the last five years. A special thanks also to the fans, who have always been incredibly supportive; something that I really appreciate and will forever be grateful for. I wish the club every success in the future.”