Thorpe hangs up boots

Lee Thorpe
Lee Thorpe

LEE Thorpe is planning to retire from football after being released by AFC Fylde.

The veteran striker, who turned 36 on Wednesday, signed for the season with the Evo-Stik First Division North club but has left as a cost-saving measure and is now hoping to launch a coaching career.

The former Blackpool player, signed from Fleetwood Town in the summer, told The Gazette: “The manager told me it was all budget related but I was a bit disappointed that the chairman did not contact me.

“I think it’s time to retire because I’m not getting any younger. I’ll be doing my coaching badges and hope for an opportunity somewhere in future.

“It was also disappointing because after signing a contract I thought I would be here for the season and could help the club to get promoted.

“I played a lot of games in a short space of time but thought I did well.”

Though Thorpe attracted some unwelcome headlines earlier in the season, when he was among the professional players named in a TV documentary as having taken recreational drugs, Thorpe had a productive half-season with the Coasters, scoring seven goals in 13 starts.

Manager Dave Challinor said: “Lee was left out of games recently primarily for one reason and that was budget.

“I have a budget to stick to and any changes I wish to make need to fall within that, and he is one of the bigger earners in the squad.

“Thorpey is a great lad and it was a difficult conversation with him.

“He has openly admitted that the demands of this division are to be able to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday most weeks – that’s without training – and although he still has the desire and drive to do this, his body won’t allow him to.

“He’s been exactly what I expected in terms of his attitude and professionalism as a former full-time player, and in other circumstances things may well have been different.”

n THE build-up has begun to the Boxing Day derby between AFC Blackpool and Squires Gate in the North West Counties premier division, but both clubs face an important league fixture tomorrow first.

Blackpool returned to winning ways against bottom club Atherton LR last week but can expect a far tougher test at leaders Bootle tomorrow.

Improved discipline may help their cause – Stuart Parker’s side have the worst record in the league with seven red cards to date this season and 42 yellows.

Gate remain rooted to the bottom four and welcome Flixton for their final home game of the year tomorrow.