Ryan Donaldson reacts as he signs for Morpeth Town after Hartlepool United exit
Ryan Donaldson has signed for Morpeth Town after turning down a new deal at Hartlepool United – with the midfielder set to combine playing with a new coaching role.
Donaldson, a former Newcastle United academy graduate, has penned a long-term deal with the Northern Premier League Premier division outfit.
The 30-year-old leaves The Vic after four years and 151 appearances in blue and white over two spells.
In an emotional statement, Pools boss Dave Challinor paid tribute to Donaldson, his work rate and professionalism off the pitch.
Pools are currently undergoing a major rebuild following promotion back to the Football League and Donaldson is going in ‘slightly different direction’ with his career, Challinor confirmed.
That has now been revealed as a player/coach role with Morpeth Town, where he will take a role within the academy alongside his playing duties.
Reflecting on the move, Donaldson said: “The way it has been going over the last few years and the things that are set in place here at Morpeth, we have scope to really push on to become another club in the North East that is up there with best of the North East non-league teams.
“I wanted to get into the coaching side, either at Hartlepool or if I left there. When I got to 30, I knew I wanted to start coaching and I’ve known academy director Nicky Gray for a few years so I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of it.
“With the academy starting this year at Morpeth, it aligned perfectly with my football journey. I wasn’t sure how full-time football and the academy coaching was going to work together.
“It’s the continuation of my footballing journey and it’s a great place to start my coaching. I just felt combining coaching and playing, at an ambitious club, it was the perfect time to start something fresh.”
Donaldson added: “I said to the manager of Hartlepool I’ve not taken it lightly.
“We got promoted and you felt like you deserved that chance to play in the league again. Four years of hard work then you do it, to step away was really difficult.
“The way we went up, the way the season went. It was a perfect ending for me so I can walk away with my head held high.
“They are an important club to me, and I’ve got some great memories. It is a club I care about deeply. I’m a fan now and I hope they have continued success because the chairman, manager and the fans deserve it.
“I’d like to say thanks for the way they’ve treated me while I have been deciding and also to the chairman and manager for the way they’ve been.
“But I’m looking to forward to getting involved at Morpeth and I’m really excited for it.”
Manager Stephen Turnbull said: “I’m absolutely delighted to sign Ryan.
“Every non-league club in the north would have fancied him. He’s another player that brings a lot of experience; I’ve spoken to players he’s played with and coaches he’s played for and they all say what a good lad he is, a model professional.
“He will be a top, top player this season, and I’m really looking forward to working with him and welcoming him into the group.”