After eight seasons and more than 200 appearances for the club, Harrogate RUFC’s talismanic captain Jake Brady is leaving Rudding Lane.
The 28-year-old lock forward has signed for National One outfit Darlington Mowden Park, but says he departs with a heavy heart.
“I’m really sad to be going, but it has always been my ambition to play in National One,” said Brady, who joined the Aces from Pontefract as a 20-year-old.
“The dream was to take Harrogate up to that division as captain, but our relegation to National Three North means that realistically it would probably be at least another three years before I could achieve that.
“I would be into my thirties by that point and I want to take on this challenge of playing at a higher standard while I’m in my prime.
“I’ve had to be a little bit selfish and put my own goals before the club, but this is the highest level that you can play at as an amateur and I’m really excited at the prospect of doing that.”
Brady was appointed captain of ‘Gate in 2013, taking over from Jimmy Brown and led the club to a trio of consecutive Yorkshire Cup triumphs between 2015 and 2017.
The good news for Aces supporters is that he is intent on returning to North Yorkshire to the place he “sees as home” to help them to further success in the future.
“I 100 per cent see myself coming back to Harrogate, I think of this club as home and want to return,” he added.
“I’ve got 216 first team caps, and I’ve got my eye on Eddie Smithies’ record which is 319. I’ve been privileged to play so many games for this club and I’d love to become Harrogate’s most-capped player.
“It hurt me a lot that we ended up getting relegated this season, it made it even tougher to leave and it wasn’t the way I wanted to go out, but I’m sure the club will bounce back and go on and do well. I definitely hope to be play a part in that in the future.”
Looking back on his time in a ‘Gate shirt, Brady says that he is able to reflect on a number of highlights.
“It’s not been plain sailing here, but I have a lot of great memories,” he said.
“When I first arrived, I never imagined I would end up captaining this club. That has been a real honour.
“The Yorkshire Cup wins were obviously fantastic, the first one especially because we beat Wharfedale who were in National One at the time, and caused a real upset.
“Our National Three North play-off victory at Sutton Coldfield is another one that really stands out because we played so well to come out on top in a must-win game and got ourselves promoted.”
‘Gate director of rugby Dave Doherty said that Brady would be missed, but wished his former skipper all the best at Darlington.
“Jake will be a big loss, but he goes with our blessing,” he said.
“He’s a great person and I’m happy for him that he’s got this move. We wish him well.”