DESPITE widespread local rumours, former Derry City centre-back, Mark McChrystal, will NOT be returning to his hometown club during the opening of the Transfer Window next month.
In fact, the 33-years-old has opted to remain with Irish League champions, Crusaders, for another season, despite having been contacted by a number of other Irish League clubs following the end his Championship-winning season.
McChrystal signed on the dotted line before heading off for a family holiday in Spain and he was very happy that his future had been sorted out for another season.
Having captained the “Candy Stripes” when returning to top flight football in the League of Ireland back in 2010, McChrystal took up an offer to join Tranmere Rovers and he represented a number of clubs before returning home from Bristol Rovers last year.
“We had won back-to-back promotions which was great for the club,” noted Mark, “but for my family it was time to come home.
“I was delighted that Stephen Baxter got in touch and I joined Crusaders where I got on well with everyone and was well treated last season,” he added.
“To have won the Irish League title was brilliant with the club now looking foward to ‘games in both the Champions League and the Europea League. It was a great year.”
Questioned on the rumours suggesting a return to the Brandywell, Mark said he was “a bit shocked” when family and friends had mentioned such news recently.
“Apparently, I was to be one of two new players to accompany Dean Shiels to Derry in July.
“To be fair, I had been training with Derry during the final weeks of the Irish League season and I’d like to thank Kenny Shiels for allowing me do that as I was supplementing my training as Crusaders had been part-time,” said Mark.
“So I can understand how rumours develop without any substance, but I’ve always been involved in full-time football and it was good to be able to train at home and at Seaview twice a week.
“I would also admit to having attended quite a few Derry games this year and it was good to see the club doing well.”
Would he have considered another return to Derry had an offer materialised?
“Over the years, I’ve learned never to close the door on any approach and once I was out of contract, I had to weigh up my options.
“Yes, I did have a short, general conversation with Kenny (Shiels), but when he told me he had four or five centre-halves on the books, there was no point in extending the conversation.
“Obviously, I was thankful to have been allowed to train at the fantastic newlook Brandywell, a move Stephen (Baxter) had no problems with.
“Stephen has been very loyal to me and respected the fact that two trips to Belfast in midweek, following by matches at weekends was not ideal.
“But with the club now embracing full-time football next season and Stephen wanting me to stay for another year, that sealed the deal.
“As I’ve said, I’ve been made to feel very welcome at Seaview. The players and backroom staff have been brilliant and to be part of a Championship winning squad was very enjoyable,” added mark.
Indeed, the Derryman will have a very short break during the summer with Champions’ League football on the horizon plus the Europa League not to mention a hectic 2018/19 domestic campaign.
“I would expect to be part of a big squad which is great.”