Graeme Lee hails 'unbelievable' Gary Liddle as the former Notts County, Bradford City, Chesterfield, Carlisle United and Walsall defender reaches landmark appearance

Graeme Lee has hailed the ‘unbelievable’ Gary Liddle after the Hartlepool United defender celebrated his 700th career appearance in the win over Harrogate Town.

By Joe Ramage
Monday, 7th March 2022, 6:00 am

Liddle has forged quite the legacy with Pools over two spells with the club and was handed the captain’s armband to mark the occasion at the Envirovent Stadium on Saturday from current club captain Nicky Featherstone.

And Liddle produced another solid display, synonymous with what fans have come to expect from the 35-year-old throughout his career as Lee’s side came from behind to claim all three points.

Liddle spent six years with the club having progressed through the ranks as a trainee before going on to have spells with Notts County, Bradford City, Chesterfield, Carlisle United and Walsall before returning to the Suit Direct Stadium in 2019 with over half of those 700 appearances coming in the blue and white of Hartlepool.

Gary Liddle captained Hartlepool United on his 700th career appearance against Harrogate Town. (Credit: Federico Maranesi | MI News)

“We’re delighted for him,” said Lee.

“We sat on the bus on the way home from Walsall and we joked because he sits behind us and he said ‘I’m on 699 now’ and Sweens jokingly said he’ll probably finish on 699, but he’s unbelievable.

“Nicky Featherstone came across to the staff and asked if it’s alright to give Lidds the captain's armband which was a fantastic gesture and we all totally agreed.

“What an occasion for him to lead the team out and it meant a lot to him.

Graeme Lee praised Gary Liddle for earning his 700th appearance. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“We did that before the kick-off, just before going out and I said to the lads he’s had 700 appearances which is an absolutely unbelievable achievement but lets make sure we’re celebrating that achievement at the end of the game and we did.”

Liddle was back in the starting line-up in place of the suspended Neill Byrne after missing out a number of games following Lee’s tactical switch to a 4-3-3 last month.

The defender led Pools out in place of Featherstone during their FA Cup fourth round tie with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park before being the casualty of Lee moving to a back four in the league which has garnered great success.

Liddle returned in the defeat at Walsall where he would make an untimely, and uncharacteristic, mistake with Pools searching for a route back into the game.

But the experienced defender showed no side-effects of that mistake at the Envirovent Stadium as he put in another commanding display for his 700th appearance.

“Lidds has had a fantastic career and it’s very rare that he makes any errors within 700 appearances,” Lee told The Mail.

“There’ll probably only be a handful of errors he’s made throughout his career because he’s a fantastic player and a professional with what he brings not only on the pitch but off the pitch with his discipline.

“You have to be disciplined to have that many games and still be playing at the tender age of 35.

“He’s done a fantastic job. It’s an amazing achievement and to get the win on the back of it is brilliant.”

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