St Ledger keen to win race for survival at Guiseley

Sean St. Ledger.
Sean St. Ledger.
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IT MAY not have quite been playing for his country at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium or lining up in the Championship at the likes of Deepdale, the Riverside Stadium or the King Power Stadium for that matter.

But striding out on a Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of under 1,500 last weekend meant the world to recent Guiseley signing Sean St Ledger.

Sean St Ledger, right.

Sean St Ledger, right.

His marquee name was the latest addition to the Lions’ National League survival fight after linking up with the club following a brief spell at relegation rivals Solihull Moors earlier this season.

Given the injury adversity which he has gone through in the past few years, with his American footballing adventure with Orlando City and Colorado Rapids turning into a nightmare due to a career-threatening knee injury, many in the shoes of St Ledger, 33, would have thrown in the towel.

But ex-Republic of Ireland defender St Ledger, who holds the honour of being the only player for the Republic to score in Euro 2012, is made of sterner stuff.

And while last weekend’s start against Wrexham – his first at Nethermoor – was tinged with disappointment at a 2-0 reverse, it was still another significant step in his road back to plying his trade regularly on the football pitch again.

Republic of Ireland's Sean St Ledger (right).

Republic of Ireland's Sean St Ledger (right).

Capped 37 times by the Republic, St Ledger told the YEP: “Being a footballer is the best job in the world. It is not as if you work a day in your life. It is great to be able to kick a ball around and when Saturday comes around, have that buzz and feeling.

“You look at how many fans that Wrexham brought last weekend and the atmosphere they created with the Guiseley fans. You still get that buzz and feeling of having to win football games with something on it. There is no better feeling.

“You can lose the passion. But I spent two years out injured and you appreciate being a footballer more. If I could have had the time I had at Leicester back, I would have done things a lot differently than what I did..

“It is great to get games under my belt now and to get two competitive matches on the bounce is a real bonus.

“I am 33 and my career in football is coming to an end. But it is the best job in the world and so I want to make the most of it. There’s probably only a couple of years left in me on the pitch.”

St Ledger’s sole appearance for Solihull in November was his landmark first for two years – after an injury nightmare which saw him assessed by the world-renowned surgeon Dr Hans Müller-Wohlfahrt.

But he quickly found himself pitted into another survival fight with Guiseley, who currently prop up the table with 15 games to go and are effectively 10 points adrift of safety taking goal difference into account, with time running out.

But given what he has gone through, St Ledger is not giving up hope yet.

On his path to Guiseley, St Ledger added: “It was through Adam Murray (assistant manager). When I was trying to get fit from my injury, I trained at Boston. And with him going to Guiseley and me coming out of contract at Solihull, he contacted me and I was right up for the challenge.

“I signed for Richard Money at Solihull and on the next day, he had left. The new manager came in and I didn’t seem to be in his plans and wasn’t going to play for him. It is just one of those things.”

On the predicament of Guiseley, who visit second-from-bottom Macclesfield tomorrow, he added: “The big thing is we have still got enough games to turn it around. There are still 15 games. It is not a whole lot, but we just need that one result and it will give the squad confidence and you would like to think that we can go from there.

“We have a few home games coming up and it is the ideal time to head up the table and catch the people above you.

“We have got a big squad, but there is quality there. I think it is just a confidence thing.

“We have not won that many games and when you are hit by last-minute goals, it probably feels worse.

“The whole feeling on the coach back is a lot worse.

“I don’t want a relegation on my CV and no-one does and this is a good challenge for me.

“With the squad that is there, the team probably should not be where they are in the table. But we are where we are.”

*****

Old rivals Ossett Town and Ossett Albion have agreed a merger between the two clubs, subject to FA and League approval, writes CONNOR CRAIG-JACKSON.

Both currently compete in the Evo-Stik North, with Town occupying 13th while Albion sit just above the relegation zone in 21st. A statement read: “We can confirm that both Ossett Town AFC and Ossett Albion FC have agreed outline terms on a merger of the two clubs subject to FA and league approval. Discussions are at an advanced stage.

“This course of action does not affect either club’s junior programmes which will remain the same. We have had great support from the town as a whole so far and we will update everyone as soon as there are any further developments.”

In the meantime Town welcome Radcliffe Borough in tomorrow’s Evo-Stik North action, as Brighouse Town entertain bottom side Goole AFC and Tadcaster Albion test their slim promotion hopes against Prescot Cables.

Farsley Celtic, meanwhile, face Evo-Stik Premier promotion rivals Workington, while Evo-Stik South top scorers Frickley Athletic travel to Peterborough Sports.

Harrogate Town’s recent FA Trophy exit now sees them return to their National League North promotion pursuit tomorrow when they face Leamington, with Bradford Park Avenue also holding strong promotion hopes ahead of their match with Darlington.

Elsewhere, Pontefract Collieries continue their NCE Premier catch-up period against Thackley, while promotion rivals Pickering Town travel to Staveley MW, and Hemsworth MW play Athersley Recreation.

A relegation six-pointer sees Harrogate Railway face Barton Town, while Garforth Town tackle Worksop Town, and Liversedge play Hall Road Rangers in the League Cup.

Division One leaders Knaresborough Town, meanwhile, face Ollerton Town, while Selby Town and Yorkshire Amateur look to return to winning league ways in their respective outings against AFC Emley and Dronfield Town.

Nostell MW travel to Shirebrook Town, while Glasshoughton Welfare face Worsborough Bridge.