Watch out 
– McArdle’s back and on a new mission

A THOROUGHLY engaging and likeable Yorkshireman, Rory McArdle is about as far removed from the Orwellian vision of ‘big brother’ as it gets.

In that regard, the new Harrogate Town recruit raised a smile at manager Simon Weaver’s recent description of him as being the equivalent of an imposing, authoritative sibling to the rest of the squad after completing his move to the club.

Yet amid Weaver’s ‘big brother’ analogy, there was a serious footballing point and McArdle was quick to acknowledge it.

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The vastly-experienced defender has been brought in to watch over Harrogate’s squad and be a dominant force on the pitch and in the dressing room. It is something he is comfortable with.

WEMBLEY WINNER: Bradford City’s Rory McArdle celebrates scoring in the League Two play-off final Picture: PA

The former Bradford City centre-back, 34, told The Yorkshire Post: “I don’t mind that. I am a little bit older and I look back to when I was a bit younger and there were a few players who helped me and you look back and appreciate how they were.

“Hopefully, with the younger lads I have come across over the past few years, I’d like to think I have helped them as much as possible and also pushed them as well. I hope they don’t think I am here just to help them, but push them as hard as possible and make sure we are all fighting and pulling in the same way.

“If in 10 years’ time and I look back and see one of the younger lads who has pushed on and progressed and is playing higher up, I’d like to think it is something I have helped him try to do.”

As for the individuals who he looked up to when he was a young player rebuilding his career at Rochdale after being shown the door at boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday, McArdle recalls one towering figure who stood out in more ways than one.

Rory McArdle in action for Exeter City against Oldham Athletic back in March. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Sheffielder added: “When I first went to Rochdale, the manager was Steve Parkin who I was also fortunate to work alongside at Bradford and the senior defender was a guy called Gareth Griffiths, who was about 6ft 6in.

“It was my first real taste of men’s football and I just remember how big ‘Griff’ was physically and how he went about it and approached it and it was a real eye-opener.

“He just helped me. He saw I was young and a bit naive and he taught me the basic things I was not aware of and steadied the ship. He gave me a massive foot on the ladder.”

McArdle returns to Yorkshire after spending the past year at Exeter City with the Grecians allowing him to return north halfway through his two-year deal after he and his family failed to fully settle in Devon.

Rory MCArdle shows typical power for Exeter against Sheffield Wednesday. Picture: Steve Ellis

Exeter manager Matt Taylor was loathe to lose McArdle, who made a strong impact on and off the pitch at St James’ Park, but was quick to respect the fact that family comes first.

McArdle’s previous spell in the White Rose at Bradford was certainly a rewarding one during a memorable time under Phil Parkinson when the club reached the League Cup final and were promoted via the play-offs in 2012-13.

It was a squad and management who were devoid of egos and wholly unified and McArdle also spies similar signs in that regard up the road at Harrogate.

He commented: “When I spoke to a couple of my close friends and family, I have said that. It has that same feel to it.

“There are no egos as such in the group and everyone is in it together. It just shows you that little things which people take for granted can go a long way.

“Especially in a football environment where you spend a lot of time with each other on and off the pitch. It is important that you have a good group who are all in it together whether you are playing or not playing.

“Ultimately, everyone is going to be needed at some point and it is important we are singing from the same hymn sheet and all want the same things come the end of the season.”

In terms of seniority, McArdle will step into the breach following the departure of someone he knows well and respects in former Bantams team-mate Jon Stead, who retired as a player at the end of last season and is now coaching in the US.

Chats with his good friend helped further convince him that a move to Harrogate represented the perfect opportunity, with the feedback he received from Weaver further reinforcing that fact.

McArdle continued: “I spoke to ‘Steady’ and he said nothing but good things. He is such a nice guy.

“I know from being with him at Bradford, when I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with him and fully respect him, that his opinion was one I trusted, 100 per cent, in terms of everything he said.

“The manager’s background is also good and the conversations have been great in terms of what he expects from his players.

“It is something that I like to think I can bring and what I’d expect of myself as well.

“There are no real grey areas and it is straightforward in terms of what he expects. When it comes down to it, if people aren’t pulling their weight, there are no excuses.”