Rory McArdle: 'Reliable' centre-half tipped to shine at Harrogate Town

Rory McArdle was unveiled as Harrogate Town's fourth signing of the summer transfer window earlier this week.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 11:37 am
Rory McArdle celebrates Bradford City's 2013 League Cup giant-killing of Aston Villa. Pictures: Getty Images
Rory McArdle celebrates Bradford City's 2013 League Cup giant-killing of Aston Villa. Pictures: Getty Images

The 34-year-old centre-half boasts plenty of experience having made well over 400 Football League appearances for Sheffield Wednesday, Rochdale, Bradford City, Scunthorpe United and Exeter City, but what else will he add to Simon Weaver's squad?

One man who knows McArdle's game better than most is Telegraph & Argus' chief sports writer, Simon Parker, who witnessed the vast majority of the 231 matches he played for Bradford between 2012 and 2017.

And Parker believes that Weaver has done a shrewd bit of business in bringing the former Northern Ireland international back to Yorkshire.

Rory McArdle heads home Bradford City's winner during a League One play-off semi-final clash with Fleetwood Town in 2017.

"Rory McArdle is a great signing for Harrogate Town " he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"It's a bit of a cliche, but he's very much a defender's defender. He doesn't try to be anything that he's not, he won't be attempting to dribble the ball out from the back, but he is very good at what he does.

"He'll tackle, head, block, put his body on the line, he'll defend his goal. He does have a little bit of pace for a centre-half, he's strong and very reliable. He was always one of the first names on the team-sheet at Bradford because of his reliability.

"He's got unbelievable experience, which is so important in League Two and he read the game extremely well.

"He's a Yorkshireman through and through and was always popular in the dressing room."

Having recently turned 34, McArdle is obviously approaching the end of his playing career, but Parker is confident that the ex-Bantams favourite will still have plenty to offer Harrogate.

"I saw him at Exeter last season and he didn't look out of place at all," he added.

"The season before he was the best player on the pitch when Scunthorpe came to Valley Parade to play Bradford.

"He just knows the level so well with all the experience he has of playing in League Two - and above.

"When Bradford were in their pomp under Phil Parkinson he was very effective in a 4-4-2 system, and with that being the formation that Harrogate often play, it should certainly suit him."

McArdle's talents are not restricted to the defensive third of the field and Parker expects the big centre-half to cause opponents plenty of problems at set-pieces.

"He was always very effective from set-pieces, a real threat," he said.

"There were plenty of his trademark near-post flick-ons at corners under Phil Parkinson. He was involved in and scored some really important goals.

"He got one against Aston Villa in the League Cup run [of 2012/13], that season's play-off final and also scored in a League One play-off semi-final against Fleetwood [in 2017]."