Stewart Drummond: It just seemed like the right time to move onto the other side

Stewart Drummond is applauded after his final game by his colleagues and manager Jim Bentley.

Stewart Drummond is applauded after his final game by his colleagues and manager Jim Bentley.

  • Drummond feels he could have played on
  • Shrimps legend set to dedicate efforts to bringing through next generation at the Globe Arena
  • Midfielder fondly remembers Conference days
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Stewart Drummond still thinks he should be playing week in, week out.

Such is the phenomenal fitness of the 39-year-old he insists he isn’t bringing the curtain down on a 21-year career because he struggles with the rigours of League 2.

Stewart Drummond gets a guard of honour from Morecambe and Preston players ahead of his testimonial.

Stewart Drummond gets a guard of honour from Morecambe and Preston players ahead of his testimonial.

As fit as ever, the midfielder has decided to declare on 622 career appearances as commitments as the club’s Head of Youth mount up.

“It’s been a big influence,” said Drummond, speaking at a desk in front of a laptop almost as a pointer to what lies ahead.

“I’ve been quite fortunate over a number of years that when I’ve been fit I’ve played most games.

“Now to come to this stage of my career whether it’s to do with work or Jim’s rotation policy I’ve not played as much this year.

The FA Cup stuff was a lot more fun back then, I think the town and the fans bought into it and enjoyed it a lot more than they do now

“You keep getting informed of how many minutes you’ve played and you’re only allowed to play 3,000 minutes a season of whatever rubbish it is nowadays.

“I was from an era where if you’re fit you play. It’s quite difficult to train all week and then not be playing on Saturday, it takes away a lot of the motivation really.

“Being 39 and with a lot of other things to do it just seemed to be the right time to move onto the other side.”

Despite his desire to play the club legend knows just how much time he needs to devote to bring through “the next Stewart Drummonds” as his good friend and Morecambe manager Jim Bentley has so eloquently put it.

Stewart Drummond battles against Coventry in the FA Cup back in 2012. Picture: PA

Stewart Drummond battles against Coventry in the FA Cup back in 2012. Picture: PA

“At the end of the day it needs 100 per cent of my effort and time going into it,” said Drummond.

“It ties in quite nicely with hanging up the boots.

“The club, the chairman and Jim have bought into the youth set-up.

“Everyone understands a club of our size need to get a lot more out of our youth set-up and get more coming into the first team with the budgets we have.

“We want to promote our young boys and that’s not really happened for a good five or six years now.

“We’re going to take a good look at the youth set-up and how we can change things and start bringing a couple through.”

The Shrimps’ legendary number 16 has seen first-hand the transformation the club has gone through in the 21 years since he came through the same system.

“I still prefer the early days to be honest, the 2001-2 time,” said Drummond.

“We had a really good team, I know it’s Conference level but we played some really good football and it was a good time to be in and around the club.

“It was an enjoyable time back then. Not to say that it isn’t now but it’s a different phase.

“If anything it’s more serious nowadays which it should be because you’re a professional footballer in League 2.

“The FA Cup stuff was a lot more fun back then, I think the town and the fans bought into it and enjoyed it a lot more than they do now.

“It’s a different brand of football to what it was 10 or 15 years ago.”

The tributes from fans for Drummond, who will also continue as the club’s reserve manager, have been pretty much non-stop since he announced he was hanging up his boots.

“It does make you proud,” he said.

“It’s only when you finish playing that you look back and starting counting how many games you played and how many goals you scored.

“I know it’s a great achievement. It’s a lot of games over a lot of years and it’s the sort of thing that you look back on in years to come and appreciate it a bit more than you do at the moment.”

Such is Drummond’s legendary status at Morecambe it is easy to forget that he went away and came back.

More than 150 of his career appearances came for first Chester City, after leaving Christie Park in 2004, and then Shrewsbury Town, where he scored in the 2007 League 2 play-off final as his the side lost 3-1 to Bristol Rovers.

The influential midfielder admits the possibility of return was always there but when it happened, it did so quickly as Shrimps boss Sammy McIlroy paid £15,000 for his services back in January 2008.

Drummond said: “I was talking to Shrewsbury about signing a new contract.

“I had a house in Chester but I was all set to move down to Shrewsbury but then things changed quickly as they do in football.

“Gary Peters changed his feelings on the direction he was taking the team and wanted to move some of the senior lads on, of which I was one.

“If I was going to leave Shrewsbury, unless it was Real Madrid or Liverpool, it would probably would have been back up here.

“I guess in the back of mind it was always an option.”

The rest, as the saying goes, is history, with Drummond now set to have a big say in the future direction of the club.