Gary Hart departs Eastbourne Borough but insists: My playing days are not over yet

Gary Hart
Gary Hart

Gary Hart said he was disappointed but insists he has no hard feelings on the decision to end his contract at Eastbourne Borough halfway through the season.

Boss Tommy Widdrington spoke with the 37-year-old utility player at training on Monday.

He said Hart’s recent injury problems were a decisive factor as Borough prepare for a hectic fixture schedule between now and the end of the season.

Hart had missed the last three weeks with a calf problem but was getting back to full-fitness and was looking forward to helping Borough reach the play-offs.

Hart said, “It was a bit of a shock to be honest. I fully expected to be here until the end of the season.

“I understand where the gaffer is coming from and I have no hard feelings.

“He feels I cannot play twice a week these days and that is one thing I disagree with him on.

“I can play twice a week, I have proved that. I’m as fit now as I was two or three seasons ago and I plan to play on for another two years at least.

“I’m not finished yet. I can’t say who it is at this stage but I have a club lined up in Essex and I’m looking forward to joining up with them and continue to play.”

Of his three seasons at Priory Lane, Hart added, “I have loved it and made some good friends here.

“When I left Brighton I had the chance to join Leyton Orient. But I wanted to stay down this way to concentrate on my coaching and play for Eastbourne.

“I have no regrets on that score, I have enjoyed my time with Eastbourne but now it’s time to move on.

“They are a good young team and I hope they can push on for promotion. This season is a good chance to go up as all the teams are beating everyone.

“If they can show a bit of consistency then they have a great chance of getting a play-off spot. I wish them all the luck in the world and I hope they can do it.”

Widdrington said, “I have spoken with Gary Hart and informed him of my intention to end his non-contract agreement with the club a little earlier than expected.

“He has struggled with fitness lately, and with the particularly hectic period ahead of us, I feel it’s a short odds bet whether he would be available for many of the fixtures we have left.

“Gary goes with the very best wishes of myself and everyone else here at Priory Lane.

“During my time in charge he has been a true pro, bringing elements often not recognised by people outside of the dressing room which have helped the restructuring of the playing squad’s profile.”

Hart made 81 appearances for the club and scored eight times.

He was in his third season having signed for previous boss Garry Wilson immediately after scoring the first ever goal at the new Amex Stadium – ironically against the Borough, in the Sussex Senior Cup Final in July 2011.

He has been a gifted attacker and a popular figure with fans and fellow players alike, during his time at the Lane.

Gary enjoyed 11 successful seasons at the Albion, achieving cult status after famously signing for Brighton from his previous club, Stansted, for a transfer fee which included a set of tracksuits.

He is also active in coaching and currently works with Albion in the Community.