Gari Rowntree’s final interview: Part One

After almost 500 total Reds appearances, player-coach Gari Rowntree confirmed his retirement on Saturday, as well as the news he will be leaving the club on Boxing Day.

Rowntree, 33, took on a playing/coaching role alongside manager Danny Grainger and assistant Steven Rudd this summer, and has still featured plenty of times on the pitch so far this campaign.

The defender, who started off his youth career with Blackburn Rovers, arrived at Borough Park as a 20-year-old in 2006 and has been at the club ever since barring a year away for the 2013-14 season.

A fan-favourite, Gaz has captained the team on 160 occasions of his 425 starts and earned both the supporters and News & Star’s Player of the Year awards for his typically-impressive 100% efforts last term.

On Saturday before the 1-4 win at Pickering Town, the West-Cumbrian spoke about the decision – which had seen tributes flood in – and looked back on nearly 13 seasons at Borough Park.

What kind of things were behind the decision and why have you chosen now to announce your retirement?

Obviously, people’s lives change and they adapt. I feel that where I’m at at the moment, it’s the right time to step away.

I’ve played and kept getting slight injuries and setbacks, as I have done right through my career.

I just feel personally, for myself, it’s my time to step away.

What have you made of your player-coach role over the past few months?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it; the coaching, getting involved and learning things with the three of us.

Sometimes it’s more than just that. There’s different things in life that you have to do and you have to move on.

I’ve enjoyed my games this year but it’s on another level training and playing constantly, I get setbacks – even mentally – and I just think it’s the right time.

How has your time at the club impacted you as a person?

It’s been a major part of my life since I was 20 to be honest. I haven’t known anything else so I’ve been involved in the club throughout every year but it was a big decision for me to step away. I’ve had a few sleepless night over it.

I just feel as if, when I play, I like to do everything at a certain standard and at the moment, I don’t feel like I can. That has made my mind up really.

What has it mean to have played for Reds all this time?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time and I’m proud of what I’ve done, the appearances I’ve had and the friends that I’ve made – it’s been brilliant.

Obviously, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of key moments. I’ve made the play-offs with the Reds – unfortunately, we haven’t had any promotions – but I’ve done everything I can, and I always would’ve.

Show your support for Gaz in his final Reds outing on Boxing Day as we host Dunston, at Borough Park, kick-off 3pm.

Part Two will be released on Christmas Eve

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