Workington Reds have been rocked by the sudden announcement that Dan Wordsworth is to retire – with immediate effect.
He will play his final game for Workington against Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
We all had a good idea that this would be Dan’s final season at the heart of Reds’ defence, but the decision to bring forward the inevitable ‘hanging up the boots’ moment has come as a complete surprise.
Dan has been playing through the pain barrier for sometime and when your body is telling you one thing and you are trying to do another, there is usually only one outcome.
The long serving defender, now in his twelfth season, is in agony before during and after games and it takes days to recover from the ninety minutes of battle on a matchday.
It is to his credit as the ultimate professional, that supporters haven’t noticed any difference in his performances. He has been as consistent as ever, his levels haven’t dipped and many would argue he is playing as well as any time in his distinguished career.
Manager Danny Grainger is still coming to terms with the news but spoke fondly of a player whose name was always one of the first on the team sheet.
“Goose is a manager’s dream – never complains, never moans and absolutely hates to lose in whatever you ask him to do. He will leave a huge void, on and off the pitch.
“Unfortunately, football doesn’t stand still and wait for us to find the next Dan Wordsworth and what he brings to us is going to be difficult to replicate. It will be almost impossible to fill the void.
“He has put his body through so much pain, particularly this season, and I can’t thank him enough for his unstinting efforts for the team. Dan has been an unbelievable servant to the club and I’m sure I speak on behalf of my predecessors and former players when I say thank-you for everything.
“Good luck Goose.”
Dan progressed through the youth ranks with hometown club, Carlisle United, had a brief spell with Kendal Town before making his Reds debut back in August 2011. He came on as a substitute in a home match against Droylsden before making his full debut at Colwyn Bay in a Conference North fixture.
He played for four seasons, had a gap year when he toured, and played, in Australia, before returning in 2016 and has been a loyal servant since.
Dan captained the side under Gavin Skelton’s managership, playing fifty games during the ’17-18 campaign, his best season in terms of appearances.
He now has 330 competitive games to his credit plus a further 37 appearances as a substitute. In addition, he has played another 59 non-competitive matches (friendlies) plus 7 as a substitute.
The most recent of his 21 competitive goals was at Bradford Park Avenue last month.
For the majority of his career, he has been the unsung hero but, as every manager he has played under has said, “I wish I had eleven players with his attitude.”
Skipper Conor Tinnion, who describes Wordsworth as his best friend in football, paid this tribute:
“I was gutted to hear that Dan is retiring but know, deep down, this is the right decision for him. Not many people are aware of the pain he has been playing with this season because he has managed to retain his high-performance levels. But I think the time is right before he does any more damage to his body.
“Dan is going to be impossible to replace, like-for-like, because, quite simply, I don’t think players like him exist anymore. As players and supporters of WAFC we have to be grateful for the many years of service he has given and, hopefully, we can give him the send-off he deserves on Saturday. He’s one of the best players I have ever played alongside and, more than anything, just an absolute winner.”
Wordsworth will lead the team out against Gainsborough Trinity in what will surely be an emotional moment for him and the Workington supporters who have the utmost respect for the thirty-three-year-old talisman.