Derry City memories will 'last a lifetime' says Fleetwood Town's Ryan Graydon
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He quickly experienced playing European football just days after joining the Brandywell club as they took on a classy Riga team who went on to progress to the third round qualifiers where they were eventually put out by Gil Vicente of Portugal.
Graydon finished a whirlwind campaign playing in front of 30,000 people at the Aviva Stadium as Derry lifted their first FAI Cup trophy in 10 years in a one-sided victory over Shelbourne with the winger playing an integral role.
He was snapped up by Fleetwood in a deal which is understood to have involved a six figure sum and while he's excited for a new chapter in his career in England, he admits those memories playing with Derry will last him 'a lifetime'.
Describing his career in senior football so far, Graydon began; "Bohs were great with me, I enjoyed my time there with Keith Long and Trevor Croly before I moved onto Bray, then to Longford, and on from there to Derry.
"I spent the year there and have ended up over here; football is a mad game, and it moves quickly, I wasn’t expecting a year on from Derry that I’d be over here but that’s what has happened.
“My year at Derry was probably the best one in my career so far, I have memories that will last a lifetime from there!
"The likes of playing in Europe, which was one of my goals from the start. I signed for them on the Sunday, and we played in Europe against Riga on the Thursday, so I was thrown straight into a big game like that after three or four days of training.
“Obviously, winning the FAI Cup is another key part of that season as it’s a trophy you want to be competing in every season. To have played in the Aviva Stadium in front of 30,000 people, Derry broke the record as they brought 25,000 people down themselves, it was a great memory for me.”
The winger, who was replaced by former Dundee man Paul McMullan at Brandywell, has six months of match fitness behind him as he begins preseason with League One side Fleetwood. And he's hoping to hit the ground running.
"It’s great to finally be here; I heard that there was some interest at the start of the year, which was exciting for me, but I just kept my head down over in Ireland and eventually got the deal done in July when the window opened – happy to be here and delighted to get going.
“The games come thick and fast over here, which is pretty similar to the schedule over in Ireland so I’m just looking forward to getting going and hitting the ground running. The gaffer has set goals for the season, and I’m delighted he’s brought me over here to be a part of it, so I’m hoping to help the lads reach those goals by adding goals and assists to my game.
“I’ve already had six months under my belt in Derry so it’s not like I’m coming into the side not fresh, I’ve got game time, so I feel fresh and ready to go already to attack the games going forwards – I’m just looking forward to it all.”
Graydon was already afforded some gametime in Fleetwood's closed-door preseason friendly defeat against Hearts at the English club's training base.
“It’s always nice when you get to new places and you see familiar faces, people you have known from playing back in Ireland as it helps you settle in a bit more and I’m just hoping that I hit the ground running now.
“It was good to get some minutes against Hearts on Wednesday, especially in the early days when you’ve only been in for two or three days of training before coming into a game, so it’s better for me to get game time in. It’s better than running in pre-season so getting any game minutes instead always helps!
“The lads are great, they made me feel welcome straight away when I came in, I couldn’t have asked them to do anymore. I just need to work with them now on the pitch to help them achieve the goals the gaffer has set out."