Rye United forward Andy Atkin has called time on a long and successful career in order to spend more time with his young family.
The 32-year-old announced his retirement this week having played in the 2-1 FA Vase third round defeat against East Preston on Saturday.
Atkin said: “I’ve got three young children and it’s got to the stage where I’d rather spend time with them now.
“I’ve loved it at Rye. Clive (Taylor, chairman), Pat (Taylor, vice-chairman), Marc (Gall, joint manager) and all the players were fantastic. Clive and Pat fed and watered my kids - it’s been brilliant.”
Atkin, who grew up in Bexhill, progressed through the ranks of the Little Common youth system before joining Sidley United under-18s. His first foray into adult football came in conjunction with his return to Little Common, who were an East Sussex League team at the time.
He then signed for Sussex County Football League outfit Eastbourne United, where he enjoyed a fruitful three years, before moving on to Conference South side Eastbourne Borough in March 2005. Atkin went on to make more than 200 appearances for the Sports, scoring a host of goals.
His career highlights arguably came during this period, though his first season at the club ended in disappointment as Borough went down 2-1 to Altrincham Town in the play-off final, held at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium.
However, he did achieve promotion to the Conference Premier in 2008 when Borough saw off Hampton & Richmond 2-0 at Stevenage’s Broadhall Way. The big number nine enjoyed a further three seasons at the club, memorably scoring a hat-trick of headers away to Woking in January 2009.
Atkin, who constructs tennis courts for a living, moved to Redhill at the end of the 2010/11 campaign and joined Sussex County Football League Division One side Rye the following season, helping them to reach the last 32 of the FA Vase.
Formidable in the air, Atkin went on to make 61 appearances for The Salts-based club, scoring 35 times.
United’s joint manager Marc Gall said: “Everyone at the club would like to thank Andy for his contribution and wish him the best of luck for the future - he’s been a model professional and a popular figure in the dressing room.”
Rye have suffered a further blow with the news that defender Jono Richardson has joined Ryman Division One South side Sittingbourne. The Quarterboys will host Littlehampton Town in the league tomorrow (Saturday).