Peterhead striker Derek Lyle will call time on his remarkable senior playing career tomorrow when the Blue Toon face Airdrie in Lanarkshire.
The 41 year old scored his first senior goal for Partick Thistle back in 1999 and he completed the unique distinction of scoring in four separate decades during his time with the Balmoor men which began back in 2018.
In-between Thistle and Peterhead Derek has become a legend at Queen of the South where he sits fourth in their all-time goalscoring charts with 117 goals as well as playing and scoring for East Stirlingshire, Stirling Albion, Dundee, Hamilton Accies, Morton and Cowdenbeath.
‘Del’ picked up a League winners medal at the end of his first season with Peterhead and that sits along his League medals picked up with Partick Thistle, Queen of the South (2), and Cowdenbeath as well as the two Challenge Cup successes he had with the Doonhamers.
In his time at Peterhead the striker has scored 19 times with manager Jim McInally saying: “Derek is one of the great characters in the Scottish game. Not many people in football anywhere can say that they have scored in four different decades.”
“He still knows his way to goal as only last weekend against East Fife he came off the bench and made a great run to the back post where he met a Ryan Conroy cross with a great header. I thought he had scored but the ball hit the bar.”
“Who knows he may sign off with a goal against Airdrie.”
Jim added: “I knew that ‘hanging up his boots’ at a senior level was coming and whilst I respect Derek’s decision, I will miss him from our squad. He has also been doing some coaching and fitness work for us and once the dust settles from this season, we will have a chat to see if that is an avenue he would like to pursue.”
The game with Airdrie is the perfect one to bow out on in the SPFL as the goal-grabber explained: “I want to end my senior playing days on my terms as opposed to having it forced on me through injury or something like that. Playing at Airdrie is perfect opportunity to do that, as it is not too far from where my family live and there will be a good few of them along at the game.”
Derek added: “I went to Peterhead in 2018 for one year which I thought would be the last in my playing career. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up playing for four years but now is the right time to stop in League 1. The manager and his assistant David Nicholls have been great with me and the way they have supported me is one the reasons I kept on playing.”
“Another is how the people at the club and the fans have treated me. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing for Peterhead and my only disappointment is that I have not taken them to the Championship which I would have really liked to do.”
As for the future Derek said: “I have enjoyed coaching when I have had the chance. It is too early to say if that is something I want to do in the future. Stopping playing as a professional after 23 seasons will take a bit of getting used to first.”