After a gruelling life in the professional game, former Scarborough FC player, manager and assistant-manager Ray McHale is now taking a well-deserved break.
McHale initially joined Boro as one of Neil Warnock’s key signings in a bid to haul the club from the Vauxhall Conference and into the Football League in the 1986-87 campaign.
The Sheffield-born midfielder then had two spells as manager at The McCain Stadium and also offered his experience as assistant to the man with the Boro reins.
His lengthy stint on the Yorkshire coast was obviously filled with a number of highlights.
He said: “The highlight as a player was probably getting promotion from the Conference.
“Although I had gained promotion in the past with both Barnsley and Sheffield United , this felt a bit special as we were the first club to gain automatic promotion into the football league.
“It was also at the latter end of my playing career.
“The town was buzzing and the celebratory weekend was enjoyed by both players and supporters.”
Boro’s first game in the Football League was another huge high for the club, as a packed ground took in a thrilling 2-2 draw with a Wolves side containing future England international Steve Bull.
McHale, who was on the scoresheet that day, added: “The Wolves game was again rather special, being the first home league game.
“The atmosphere was second to none and scoring the equaliser made it all the more memorable.”
McHale retired as a player soon after, but he still had a significant contribution to make.
“When Neil left I came in as assistant to Colin Morris, who became the manager of the club,” added McHale.
“The highlight when we were in charge was probably when we drew with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and then after being 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go we won 3-2 back at Scarborough.
“After that, as the manager, one of the highlights was putting together a young team, who luckily never knew when they were beaten and never gave up.
“I can remember when we were playing against a Coventry side who were riding high in the Premiership.
“I took the lads in the mini bus to watch them play Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
“They won that game 2-0 and at the time they were undefeated in the Premiership away from home.
“On the way back I couldn’t help but worry if I’d made the right decision or not.
“We lost 2-0 at Coventry and were drawing 0-0 at half-time in the return leg at Scarborough .
“I can remember saying to the players that although I didn’t think we could pull the 2-0 back, I thought we could win the game which in itself would be a real achievement.
“Then, with 15 minutes to go, Darren Foreman scored, then Tommy Mooney and in injury-time a Gary Himsworth free-kick was met by Lee Hirst with a match-winning header.
“Lee was recommended by my late brother Glenn from the Sheffield League , and because of his performance in that game was signed by Bobby Gould at Coventry.
“It was always tough at the club as regards to the money situation, it was always a challenge managing budgets.
“There was always pressure to find young players and sell them on for a profit.”
McHale’s lengthy stint at Boro finally came to an end in 2002 when Russell Slade took charge.
He added: “I left the club when Russell joined as I thought it only fair he bring in his own staff, and I thought it was my time to leave.
“I’ve not really kept in touch with any of the players, everyone moves on and goes their different way in life, although I’ve always kept in touch with Ian Kerr and his partner Gail Colling, who are both still active in football.
“These days, being retired, I spend a lot of time in Spain, enjoying the outdoor life of golf, tennis, walking and cycling.
“I also get a lot of pleasure from spending time with my son Andrew, his wife Louise and grandchildren Millie and Nathan.
“Ian and Gail always keep me updated with what is happening at Scarborough Athletic Football Club and how they are doing.”