If Alan Redford has to call time on his football career at the end of the season, he will leave with few regrets.
Redford has given the last 10 years of his semi-professional career to Cove Rangers, playing a part in their most successful period in recent history.
He has four Highland League titles under his belt and numerous cup triumphs, with the promotion to League 2 last summer the proverbial icing on the cake.
But the 39-year-old, a PE teacher at Bucksburn Academy, is also realistic. He has to manage an ongoing knee issue this season as well as bouts of illness. His one league appearance, against Edinburgh City back in December, may be his last.
That will not detract from a career that has given him more than he would have ever expected.
He said: “If there was a chance to get back for the last part of the season, then I’d do that. Cove are looking strong favourites at this stage to progress to the next stage and I imagine there’ll be one or two changes in that. I’m out of contract and I’ve got to be realistic, I don’t think I’m going to be here next year. If I’m injury-free, then I’ll certainly look to go play elsewhere. If I’m not injury-free, then I don’t see the point.
“Having to manage a knee injury at my age, it doesn’t seem fair to a club to go and play for them if I’m not fully fit and it’s no good for my health either. I am at ease with it – I’ve played football for the majority of my life and I’m at an age where I feel lucky I’m able to play. If I don’t play next year, then I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing football and I’ll leave happy with what I’ve done and been part of.
Redford has been with Cove Rangers since 2010.“I feel I’ve had to manage minor injuries over the last few years. I did have a patellar tendon repair in my fourth season, which kept me out for a few months. It’s not gone well for me this year from that point of view.
“I’ve had a couple of bouts of illness that have kept me out for two or three weeks at a time. The competition for places is rife; you’ve got a very good squad of players and boys that can play at a higher level than League 2. It would be a challenge were I five years younger and at full fitness, so I’m realistic about where I am.”
Redford was brought to Cove by co-managers Kevin Tindal and Jerry O’Driscoll, the latter being a colleague of the defender’s at Huntly.
He became a regular in the team well into his 30s under John Sheran, winning the Highland League in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
He added: “It’s been a really enjoyable and successful time. I’ve been fortunate to play in strong Cove teams every season – we’ve not won cups and leagues every year but for the majority of years we’ve been successful. I had a couple of options but Cove were the best team and the most likely team, that I was offered deals with, to be challenging regularly.
“The co-managers at the time were Jerry O’Driscoll and Kevin Tindal. I knew Jerry from playing with him at Huntly and I’d come across Tinds a couple of times on the park. I met them and it was an easy decision.
“The first season I wasn’t a regular. There was competition and they had a good team already. I was in and out of the team. But that season after, I managed to be a regular. The fact I was 30-plus when I signed, meant there have been times where I have been rested for games. I was OK with that. I kept myself fit enough to play every week but it wasn’t a bad thing having a week not playing. But I’ve played regularly over eight of the 10 years.”
Redford pinpoints the 2013 success under Tindal, in which Cove won the title on the last day of the season at Formartine, as a stand-out moment from his time with the Aberdeen side.
He has been an interested spectator more often than not this season, with form and fitness keeping him out of the side, but his that will not detract from his enjoyment of a trophy-laden Indian summer.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing football,” added Redford. “If we haven’t won trophies, you can’t dwell on it. It’s not my job, so it’s a bonus.
“Winning things makes it better, there’s no doubt about that, and doing it for 10 years consistently, makes it that much more enjoyable.”
- Alan Redford’s testimonial dinner will take place on March 21 at the Douglas Hotel, with guest speaker Craig Brown. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org