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Story posted: Friday, 17th September 2004

Richard Wardle retires
Richard Wardle

Richard Wardle

Gresley Rovers have today announced that Richard Wardle has decided to hang up his boots and retire from football.
Richard who has played more than 620 games for the Club, with increasing work commitments and a new young family, has decided the time is right.

Cannock based Wardle, 33, joined from Tamworth in October 1991, and made his full debut for Rovers in a 4-0 victory in the West Midlands Premier League. His first goal for the club came in April of that same season against Blakenall and it was a goal that clinched Rovers the title.

He has had 14 seasons at the club and holds the current appearances record after beating the previous record of 563 back in March 2003. His crowning season in a Rovers shirt was undoubtedly in 96-97 when he was a regular member of the side that clinched the Southern League Championship.

Speaking about his decision, Richard admitted it was a difficult decision to make, "I have really enjoyed my time at the club; it has been like a second home to me, I have met and got to know some very nice people, the fans have been superb. I intend to keep in contact; I am in no doubt that I am going to miss Saturday football. I really wish Gresley Rovers all the very best for the future and that it not only fulfils its potential, but lives its dream."

Mark Evans, Club Chairman, stated that Richard had indicated to the Club at the start of the season that this would be his last, "I am sorry that it has come sooner than at the end of the season, but Richard has a lot going on in his personal life, a young family and a career.

Richard Wardle"He has given this Club a large part of his life and it owes an immense debt of gratitude to him - there are so many adjectives that could be used to describe him, both as a person and for his contribution to the club. I am sure that history will show him to be one of a number of people whose single contribution had such defining presence at the club.

"I have on many occasions had the benefit if his advice and thoughts and he has always proven to be a person of great strength and resolve.

"Richard has always been a great counsel to me and again Richard has taken the time following his decision to share with me his private thoughts and observations concerning the Club, and how he would like to see it proceed and progress. As always it is useful and proactive advice and support from somebody that has always had the Club at both his heart and mind."

"It goes without saying that I intend to keep in contact with Richard and that he will always be welcome at the Moat Ground."

Richard has played more than 620 games for the ClubGary Norton added that he was disappointed to be losing someone of Richard's experience and ability but understood his reasons. "Richard will leave a massive gap - his experience is second to none, he is adaptable, willing and more importantly able, to play in almost any position - he has been there when you need someone reliable - I wish him all the best, I am sure the club will want to mark his retirement in a special way."

Rovers former boss Jon Newsome commenting on Richard's retirement said, "In this day and age we do not see professional players giving to clubs what Richard has given to Gresley Rovers; he has given fantastic service to the club. As a manager you could not ask for more, he was reliable, dependable giving 100% all the time and in what ever role you wanted him to play in."

John McGinlay added "Richard has been a great great servant to the club; he will have received many an opportunity to move on to other clubs at higher levels, but chose to stay with Gresley. He has been very loyal; he is a great person and player - I wish him all the best for the future."

The club will be looking to mark Richard's retirement, but more importantly his achievements in the near future and in addition to discussing ideas with Richard over the next week, would welcome suggestions from supporters as how to honour Richard.
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  Team P GD Pts
12 Belper Town 33 -23 40
13 Loughborough Dynamo 35 -20 37
14 Spalding United 31 -10 36
15 Carlton Town 26 5 33
16 Peterborough Sports 33 -16 32
17 Kidsgrove Athletic 30 -14 31
18 Newcastle Town 33 -19 31
19 Gresley 29 -18 30
20 Market Drayton Town 31 -35 28
21 Romulus 33 -35 27
22 Sheffield FC 30 -20 26

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