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|EYRE CALLS IT A DAY AT JUST 31
UniBond League Division One South club Kidsgrove Athletic`s defender Richard Eyre insists he has retired just as he has discovered a position that could extend his career.
Eyre's performances as sweeper in the last three games of the season earned rave reviews from manager Peter Ward, but he is adamant there is no going back.
Eyre, still only 31, said: "I have played hundreds of games so I have had a decent innings.
"The time has come to spend more time with my family. I will be taking my two young children to games instead of them coming to watch me."
Eyre (pictured) admits he enjoyed his final fling in the sweeper role. He said: "I had played there before, but only once or twice. I saw a lot of the ball and had time to pick my passes and bring other players into the game.
"But I have no regrets. I have enjoyed my career in football, which I would not swap for anything, and made good friends. I still have a drink with Allen Tankard and Wayne Corden from my Port Vale days.
"It has been good fun in non-League and a lot more relaxed than the seven years I spent in the pro game."
Eyre had expected to go out on a high, rather than a season of struggle with `Grove at the foot of UniBond Division One South.
He said: "The season has been very disappointing, especially after last year when we finished eighth.With the talent we had in the dressing room we wanted to make the play-offs or better.
"The money was good for the level we were playing at and even though it ran out, the club still looked after us."
Eyre won the Staffs Senior Cup and UniBond League Chairman's Cup with Kidsgrove, a club he served in two spells.
And the regard in which Eye was held by his team-mates was reflected in the good natured 'retirement' banners that decorated the dressing room on his farewell appearance at Grantham Town, ticker tape and a good wishes card signed by the squad and management.
Quiet man Eyre is that kind of guy - too laid back, by his own admission, to fall out with anyone and happy just to get on with the job.
Eyre was the promising right winger who ended up at left-back.
He joined Port Vale on the Youth Training Scheme under John Rudge, but then Brian Horton took over as manager.
Horton once described Eyre as having the potential to become a £5m player. "Shame it never happened," he said "and I didn't agree with him - but it was a nice compliment!
"I had a good working relationship with Brian Horton. He relaxed me and gave me my chance."
Eyre recalled: "He gave me my debut at QPR and I remember scoring in a 3-1 win at Sheffield United. I also played at Elland Road in the FA Cup, but there were good players in my position at Vale such as Jon McCarthy and Gareth Ainsworth, so I had to bide my time."
Eyre had spent six-and-a-half years at Vale Park before being released - "not a massive shock" - and after a trial with Kidderminster Harriers he spent four or five weeks travelling to Rochdale at his own expense with nothing to show for it.
His agent fixed him up at Macclesfield and for three months under manager Gil Prescot he blossomed.
Eyre said: "I played every game under Gil, but he resigned and David Moss came in. From the moment he arrived in the November I was out for no apparent reason.
"I found Moss very arrogant. I was not in his plans, but he never gave me an explanation."
Forced to look outside the game, Eyre went to work for his uncle at a warehouse in Glossop -where he still works - and played his football for a short time with Hyde United, who were then struggling in the UniBond League.
Next stop was Kidsgrove - convenient as his lives in Congleton - helping them to win the North West Counties League crown - and then had a spell with Leek Town. He said: "I had a good time at Leek, but cannot say I enjoyed my football so it was not a hard decision to go back to Kidsgrove three years ago when Anthony Buckle and Darren Twigg were in charge."
Former Leek and Kidsgrove manager John Ramshaw was the man responsible for switching Eyre from right-sided attacker to left-sided defender.
He said: "We were short of a left-sided player and, although I am naturally right-footed, I am quite comfortable on my left and I quite enjoyed it. I probably had my best two seasons there."
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