GARI Rowntree is leaving Workington Reds and the club is preparing for an emotional farewell to a Borough Park favourite for so long.

Manager Danny Grainger announced after Saturday’s 4-1 win at Pickering Town that the long-serving defender had decided to take a break from football because of personal circumstances.

Rowntree, who had started his career with Blackburn Rovers, joined his hometown club towards the end of the 2006/7 season when Tommy Cassidy was manager.

The 33-year-old has been a fixture ever since, apart from one season when he played for the ill-fated Celtic Nation.

In total, he has played 420 league and cup games for the west Cumbrians, which puts him second behind Kyle May in the list of players’ appearances for the club in non League football. Indeed, only legendary skipper Bobby Brown has played more games when Reds were members of the Football League.

Grainger said: “I was so pleased that Gari agreed to join the management team when I took the job on at Workington. He has been so helpful to me and has been invaluable because he is so much a Workington man, through and through.

“He will be playing a final game on Boxing Day at home to Dunstan and I want as many fans to come down and give him a terrific send-off because he certainly deserves it for all he has done for the Workington club.”

Rowntree will captain the side on Boxing Day and there will be a guard of honour when he comes down the tunnel for the final time. A knee injury ended a promising start to his career at Blackburn and he has had set-backs at Workington with further knee damage, including absences this season.

He had stayed on as a player this season after agreeing to join Grainger’s coaching team along with Stephen Rudd.