The happiest of anniversaries at Morecambe FC

Barry Roche is ready for an 11th season at Morecambe after his man-of-the-match display at Coventry City kept them in the Football League    Picture: B&O Press Photo
Barry Roche is ready for an 11th season at Morecambe after his man-of-the-match display at Coventry City kept them in the Football League Picture: B&O Press Photo

Barry Roche is preparing for his testimonial year with Morecambe in the hope he doesn’t have to repeat last season’s final day heroics.

The keeper’s man-of-the-match display at Coventry City helped Jim Bentley’s players take the point they needed to ensure Barnet joined Chesterfield in being relegated.

The celebrations come full-time at the Ricoh Arena indicated just how relieved everyone in the Morecambe camp was after they had almost sleptwalked their way to relegation.

“I know Alex Kenyon said he didn’t sleep towards the end of last season and I was the same for about three weeks,” Roche said.

“I was thinking that we had to do this or that and it was awful, far too close for comfort.

“The feeling at the end of the game was incredible but, although I’d made a couple of saves, if someone had offered me a nice, easy afternoon with nothing to do, then I’d have taken that instead!

“The day is so fresh in my memory though that it only seems like last week rather than May.”

Relegation would have been a dreadful way for Roche to end his 10th season with the Shrimps given his performances for the club in that time.

Arriving at the club in June 2008 after leaving Chesterfield, the 36-year-old has been a mainstay as Morecambe have defied the odds to remain a Football League club – not to mention an injury-time equaliser against Portsmouth in February 2016.

His efforts have been rewarded with a testimonial during the course of the 2018/19 season with the first event being a match between a Shrimps XI and a celebrity side on September 16.

Roche said: “The club was good enough to grant me a testimonial but the last 10 years have absolutely flown by.

“It only seems like yesterday that I was up at Christie Park and signing on a Thursday night.

“Everyone who knows me knows how much I love the club and how lucky I’ve been to play here for 10 years.

“There is a lot of planning going into the testimonial at the moment and I have a fantastic group of people on the committee who are putting in a lot of work for me.

“Obviously I haven’t done this before and I wasn’t to know what it entailed but there is so much stuff that needs to be sorted.

“We’re in the process of getting the final bits sorted out for the game which will be released in due course.”

Talk of a testimonial match means attention will inevitably turn as to how long Roche can keep playing.

The man himself has spent a few years preparing for life after football in the hope he can remain involved in some capacity.

“The last thing you want is to retire and there’s nothing on the horizon,” he said.

“I’ve been doing my coaching badges because I see myself going into coaching.

“Ideally, in the next six months, I’ll be setting up my own goalkeeping academy up here; it’s early days but it’s something I fancy doing.

“Being one of the oldest means I’ve worked with younger keepers and I’ve worked with them and Lee Jones (goalkeeping coach) to pass on advice which is something I really enjoy.”