Harrogate Town's Lloyd Kerry adamant that now is the right time to retire despite superb showing on his final appearance

There was nothing about Lloyd Kerry's performance for Harrogate Town against Sutton United which suggested that he should indeed be retiring.

By Rhys Howell
Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:35 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:37 pm
Lloyd Kerry in action for Harrogate Town during Saturday's 2-0 League Two defeat to Sutton United at Wetherby Road. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The long-serving 33-year-old midfielder looked the Sulphurites' best outfield player, snapping into challenges and using the ball intelligently in trademark fashion on his way to being named as the game sponsors' man of the match.

Yet, after eight seasons at Wetherby Road, the ex-Sheffield United trainee is hanging up his boots ahead of taking on the new full-time role as Town's head of player recruitment.

And Kerry insists that, although he feels he could potentially still have a few more miles left in the tank, now is definitely the right time to call it a day.

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Lloyd Kerry and his children were greeted by a guard of honour when they walked out onto the Wetherby Road pitch.

"A few people have said to me 'maybe you could have kept going', but it's nice to go out on a high. I made a decision a while back now and I think that while I'm still fit and healthy it's the right thing to do," he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"A lot of players retire because they've got an injury or fall out of love with the game, so some people might raise an eyebrow, but it is the right time for me.

"I've had every injury going and sometimes it has been difficult. I've done my ACL, I've fractured my cheek-bone and eye socket, my ankle ligaments. It's been difficult and it does take its toll.

"I played 25 minutes against Forest Green last Saturday and I've not been able to train all week, so that shows you straight away that my body is telling me that it's the right time.

"And, I feel like my journey has come full circle. I made my senior debut in League Two when I went out on loan to Torquay as an 18-year-old. I then dropped into non-league, but I've made it back to this division. I'm proud of what I've achieved here and am happy to be going out while I'm still able to contribute at the highest level I've ever played at."

Town manager Simon Weaver agreed that Kerry was his side's stand-out performer during Saturday's 2-0 loss to Sutton and even admitted that he has considered on a number of occasions whether one of his most trusted lieutenants is in fact retiring from playing a year too soon.

But, having had plenty of time to deliberate on the decision, the Harrogate chief says he is certain that the "bigger picture will look better" with Kerry heading up the club's recruitment than it would have done had he opted to soldier on for another season.

"Lloyd can be so proud of Saturday's performance. It was shining out, he showed me what he still offers, and it's quite nice in a way to see a lad bow out while he's still contributing," Weaver reflected.

"He's been amazing, such an inspiration for our club. I don't overuse the word 'legend', I think he's probably the first player who has finished his career at Harrogate Town who I've said that about. But, this guy is a legend, I can safely say that.

"And I've certainly had a wobble a few times about whether it's too early for him to retire. But the fact is, at a club like ours, timing is so important. The opportunity had to be presented to Lloyd and his family to take on the new role because we needed someone in full-time and he is the right man for this job.

"Yeah, maybe he could have had another year playing. I think two would have been a stretch given his age, but I think the bigger picture will look better for having Lloyd guiding us and helping us off the pitch."

In addition to receiving a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 65th minute, Kerry was also handed the captain's armband and walked out onto the field of his play alongside his children to be met by a guard of honour formed by both sets of players.

"It was great getting the guard of honour, walking out with my kids was special, I can't thank the club enough for Saturday," he added.

"The club has been great with me, there was a big build-up to my last game and they've gone above and beyond.

"It was brilliant when I walked off as well, the fans were all clapping me and it was emotional for me. The fans have always been great with me. I like to think that I have always given my best and I feel as if that has probably paid off.

"I've had a great time here. I've got some great memories and I'm happy to be staying at the club.

"You want to go out on a positive result. I said to the lads before the game, it's not Lloyd Kerry's testimonial, it's a league fixture and one that we want to win and we approached it like any other game. I thought we played okay and definitely had enough chances to get something out of it, but it wasn't to be."