FAREWELL TO BRENDAN AND SACHA
Bedford Blues will be bidding a fond farewell to two of the clubs stalwarts after Saturday's final Greene King IPA Championship game against Jersey at Goldington Road.
After amassing 20 years of service between them to the Blues, Sacha Harding and Brendan Burke will be saying goodbye at the end of the season as they play their final game in front of the Goldington Road faithful.
Harding – who will be pulling on a Blues shirt for the 200th and final time – is retiring from the sport at the end of the season to concentrate on his personal training business. Burke – who has racked up an impressive 179 appearances since joining from Rotherham eight years ago – is looking to progress as a coach while continuing to tie up the boot laces on a Saturday afternoon.
Speaking about his retirement, Sacha Harding said: “This has been a really tough decision for me to make but following the injury that I suffered last year it is clear that I cannot continue to play 30 games every season. I've been doing a lot of things off the field including setting up Sacha Harding Personal Training (@PTSachaHarding) and in order for that to be a success I need to be fully fit and so I've made the decision to hang up the boots.
“Bedford Blues has been a massive part of my life for the past 13 years. I came as a 17 year old hoping for one game and have been privileged to play 200 times for this fantastic club. I also have so much to thank the club for. I've made some fantastic friends both on and off the field, I met my girlfriend here at Goldington Road and I've been lucky enough to experience some amazing rugby games.
“Bedford is a wonderful club and it was epitomised for me on Boxing Day 2010 when hundreds of Blues fans turned up with shovels and wheelbarrows in hand to help clear the snow off the pitch so we could go on to smash Bristol that afternoon. It it things like that which show what the ethos of a great rugby club should be.”
Looking ahead to his final game at Goldington Road, Brendan Burke said: “Bedford and Bedford Blues holds a very special place in my heart and always will. I came here from Rotherham where things didn’t quite work out for me after moving over from Ireland, but as soon as I walked through those gates I knew that this was the place that I wanted to be.
“I've had the honour of playing with some fantastic players and being part of teams who have shown this league just what is possible when you don't have the biggest budgets but do have the desire and passion to succeed.
“While I am disappointed that Saturday will be the last time I head into the home changing room and prepare for a Championship game with Bedford, I am extremely proud to have been a Blues player and take so many memories with me.”
Bedford Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer added: “It is always difficult saying goodbye to players but it is even harder when you have Sacha and Brendan who have been true Bedford Blues legends and have put their bodies on the line for this club for so long.
“Everybody at the club wishes them well for their futures and we certainly want to give them the appropriate send off they both deserve. With so much riding on it for Jersey now it should be a great occasion and hopefully the whole town will turn out to give Brendan and Sach an afternoon to remember.
You can purchase discounted tickets for the Blues final game of the 2013/14 season on the club website www.bedfordrugby.co.uk. Kick-off is at 3pm and there will be a post match party after the game in the Blues Marquee where fans can meet the players and coaches and enjoy live music.