Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cheers Lids!

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cheers Lids!

Article excerpt

Byline: By Andrew Wilkinson Evening Gazette

Injury-hit former Boro defender Craig Liddle has hung up his boots after playing over 320 games for Darlington. ANDREW WILKINSON looks at the story of one of the North-east's most honest players.

Craig Liddle once won a Premiership Man of the Match award against Liverpool for snuffing out the threat of Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore.

But he will talk about that memorable Boro game only when asked. The star names of the game are not in his list of favourite players.

"The footballers I will remember with the most affection are team-mates at Darlington," said Liddle.

Widely acclaimed as one of the true legends of a club that has been around for almost 125 years, he doesn't even single out the well-known players who filtered down to the Quakers level.

"The lads who meant the most to me are the likes of Glenn Naylor, Adam Reed and Phil Brumwell. They are good, honest hard-working footballers, who never made a fortune out of the game.

"But when you needed players who would give 100pc alongside you, and always back you up on the pitch, there were none better."

They would say the same of Liddle, whose levels of professionalism and consistency have made him a hero of the fans.

Towards the end of his career he played with injuries that would have prevented some players from getting out of bed, let alone lining up on the pitch.

Darlington winger Neil Wainwright, Liddle's room mate on away trips, tells of the skipper going to the bathroom in the night before games, and taking an age because he almost had to drag himself across the floor.

Wainwright would tell him that he couldn't possibly play the next day, but Liddle said he would be all right once he got going and the adrenaline took over. And he somehow got through 90 minutes the following afternoon without letting his standards drop.

He once hobbled on with a broken ankle for a few minutes of a game.

In the end, he quit playing only because of bad knee injuries, and a stomach muscle that kept tearing away from the bone even though it had been stapled several times. …

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