Rory McArdle will be 'big brother' figure at Harrogate Town and add genuine competition for places

As well as bringing serious Football League pedigree, Simon Weaver believes that Rory McArdle will fulfil two important roles in his Harrogate Town squad.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 12:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 12:42 pm
Rory McArdle is all smiles during his first Harrogate Town training session. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The 34-year-old former Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City and Rochdale centre-half was unveiled as the Sulphurites’ fourth signing of the summer transfer window last week.

First and foremost, Weaver has moved for the ex-Northern Ireland international in a bid to provide greater competition for places at the heart of his back-four, but was also keen to fill the void left by the departure of the recently-retired Jon Stead.

“He’ll be that kind of big brother figure for the rest of the squad,” Weaver said.

Rory McArdle in League Two action for Exeter City last season. Picture: Getty Images

“Steady was brilliant in the dressing room for a number of reasons and having him as that go-to person for what is quite a young squad was one of them. Jon’s been there and done it, but obviously he’s moved on now and we think Rory can play a similar role.

“He’s that experienced older head and when I asked Steady what he knew about him from their playing days at Bradford, he said Rory is very much a Harrogate Town player in terms of his character.”

With his first-choice centre-half pairing of Will Smith and Connor Hall having played just a single season in the Football League, Weaver also believes that McArdle’s experience will prove hugely beneficial out on the pitch.

“Having a player with so many EFL games under his belt and that nous talking alongside the rest of the back four will make a big difference,” he added.

“It’s a vital ingredient and one that we haven't had for a while. We conceded too many last season and I’m sure that Rory will be able to pour cold water over similar types of situations that saw us let in goals that could have been avoided.”

Smith and Hall were among Harrogate’s most consistent performers in 2020/21, though with Warren Burrell deployed as a full-back more often than not and Jake Lawlor and Kevin Lokko failing to really establishing themselves in the starting XI, there was never really any fierce competition for their positions.

The arrival of McArdle will however change that, Weaver insists.

“The amount of EFL games Rory has played is testament to the consistency of his level of performance over the years,” he added.

“With his pedigree, he’ll add genuine competition and there’s nothing better for a manager. It’s already paying off because we’ve seen Will and Connor training with a little bit of an extra edge in pre-season.

"No team-talk nor anything like that can make the difference that competition for places does."