MARK McChrystal celebrated his 27th birthday with a new two year contract at Tranmere Rovers this week.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The former Wolves, Partick Thistle and Derry City central defender, helped the Prenton Park side consolidate their League One status last season and following negotiations since the end of last season, the player put pen to paper on Wednesday on new two year deal which will keep him in Birkenhead until the end of the 2013 season at least.
Having celebrated his birthday on Sunday last, the Derry man is now eagerly looking forward to the new League One season which, he claims, will be very competitive this season.
“We started pre-season training on Wednesday and while eight of last season’s squad have moved on, we’ve been told there will be five or six new signings over the new week or so which will, hopefully, bolster the squad so that we can compete in the top half of the table,” said Mark.
“Obviously, I’m delighted to sign a two year full-time contract as I knew I was taking a chance leaving Derry City to come over here, but I had a decent season and once we moved clear of the relegation area, things began to look up for me,” he added.
New Recent Arrival
Having celebrated the birth of his first child two weeks ago - a healthy baby girl named Aleigha - with girlfriend Aine McGee, everything has been going well for the Derry man.
“Aine gave birth to our daughter two weeks ago when I was negotiating a new deal and everything has turned out great for us. I expect to be over and back to Derry on every available opportunity over the next few months, but we intend to move to Tranmere when things settle down.”
Tranmere boss, Les Parry, had watched McChrystal play in a few challenge games when he was on trial with Huddersfield Town after winning the First Division title with the “Candy Stripes” and while he has always enjoyed representing his home town club, he felt the opportunity to return to England may be his last when approached.
“I was disappointed when leaving Wolves and having to come home, but I always believed in my own ability and felt I would get another chance if I kept my head down and worked on my fitness levels,” continued Mark.
“I was coming to an age when I had to make up my mind and while I spent a season with Partick Thistle, I opted to return to League of Ireland football as I didn’t believe I had any future playing in the lower leagues in Scotland.
“But, thankfully, I returned to Derry and played in the First Division before I was approached to return to England. I gave it plenty of thought and I felt I owed it to myself to return and have a got at it in League One which is competitive.”
With the priority centred on preserving their League One status last season, the Prenton Park side now harbours ambitions of pushing on by competing in the top half of the league table over the 2011/12 campaign and team boss, Parry, wanted McChrystal to be part of that progression.
“I had a good chat with the manager at the end of last season. He told me that I was in his plans for the future and when negotiations opened during the close season, we didn’t have too many difficulties. However, once things were ironed out, I was delighted to sign a new two year contract and that has obviously given me a great lift.
“I’m now back in training as I hope to hit the ground running come August and while I realise we are in a tough league, it’s what I want and, hopefully, I’ll be able to make my presence felt over the season ahead,” he concluded.