Defender Rory McArdle has confirmed his decision to retire from professional football at the end of the season, thus bringing an end to his stellar career spanning 19 years.
The 36-year-old, who has registered over 400 football league appearances, began his playing career with Sheffield Wednesday before making the permanent move to Rochdale after two loan spells.
During his time with the Dale, the defender made over 140 appearances most notably scoring during the 2008 League Two play-off final against Stockport.
After two seasons with Scottish side Aberdeen, the central-defender returned South of the border to join Yorkshire rivals Bradford City.
In making close to 200 appearances for The Bantams, McArdle contributed with several important goals for the side including a League Cup semi-final goal against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Spells with Scunthorpe and Exeter followed before the Northern Ireland international joined Yorkshire’s yellow & black prior to the beginning of the 21/22 season.
Featuring at the heart of the defence, McArdle has registered close to 40 appearances during his two seasons with the club. His only goal came in our 3-0 victory over Carlisle at the end of last season.
Reflecting on his decision, McArdle said:
Throughout my career I have always tried to do the right thing, whether that be for the club, the team or for myself. This has been a hard decision to make but I think the last six months have helped me to take this decision.
If I am not playing I always want to do everything I can to help the players in my position to prepare for games. That change of focus has been a fresh challenge which I have enjoyed and now this decision is one which has been made on my terms.
I am privileged to have some wonderful people round about me who have helped me get to this point. My mum and dad have been great supporters, growing up they took me up and down the country and without them none of this would have been possible.
My wife Elizabeth has always understood the unpredictability of football, she has sacrificed a lot too. While I have been playing, it’s been difficult to plan things socially but hopefully now we can enjoy these things together with the kids.
I have also been honoured to work with incredible managers and players who have all helped me throughout my career. I’d like to thank them all for making my time as a professional so enjoyable.
In my time here, the gaffer has always gone above and beyond to help me both on the pitch and off it. That is something which has stuck with me and I will try to do moving forward.
It’s strange how it comes full circle. Rochdale was the club where I began my professional career really. I have some great memories of my time there including a play-off final and promotion so I’m looking forward to facing them next week.
Simon Weaver paid tribute to our departing number 23:
Rory has had a magnificent career in the game, he and his family can be proud of everything he has achieved. Rory has made some important contributions during his time with Harrogate Town and as a club we are proud to have had him with us.
He leads by example in everything he does. He is a top pro and you can see why he has had the career which he has had. Every day he works hard to prepare properly for training and minimise his risk of injury.
He has an unwavering love for football, he gives his all in every session and will never take the easy option. That professionalism is what sums him up both as a player and as a person.
He is a magnificent example for players who are just starting out in the game. Having made over 400 league appearances, played at international level and made some fantastic memories. These achievements are testament to the hard work and talent he has.
McArdle’s final match will be next week’s home encounter against Rochdale.