THANK you, but not goodbye.
That will be the message from Ritchie Humphreys to the Hartlepool United supporters when he celebrates 10 years at the club tomorrow night.
In fact, it is far from farewell.
For Humphreys, it is the continuation of a love affair which enjoyed its first flirtations back in the summer of 2001.
And should that relationship mature into a marriage of management then the affable Yorkshireman would have fulfilled a private ambition.
For the first time since graduating into the role of backroom lieutenant, Humphreys has revealed his dream of one day taking charge at Victoria Park.
Speaking to Ritchie’s Super 10 on the eve of his testimonial, the Pools legend admitted: “To manage Hartlepool United is one of my ambitions.
“I realise that might be a few years off and I’ve still got an awful lot to learn and I’m learning a great deal from Mick Wadsworth and Micky Barron right now, but I have thought about it and hope it happens one day.
“Nothing will ever beat being a footballer, but I think being a manager will come close.
“It’s just that buzz from winning a football match that I don’t think you could replace if you walked away from the game.
“I’ve been privileged to work in the game I love for all of my adult life. I don’t want that to change and if that can be at Hartlepool, then all the better.”
Read the pages of this supplement, or indeed any tribute to Humphreys and you could be forgiven for thinking he’s simply too nice a guy to make the transformation into dressing-room disciplinarian.
It’s a charge Humphreys is more than happy to answer, instead insisting he does have the stomach to trade in a far tougher currency.
“There is a nasty side if the need arises,” he came back.
“It’s nice to hear people say nice things about you and I think I am the person I am because of my upbringing – nothing will ever change that.
“But there is a ruthless professional streak in me. I think there is in most footballers.”
Read the full feature with Ritchie in his testimonial pullout in Monday’s Mail ...