Marty Ridyard insists he holds no grudges towards Leigh following his departure from the club.
The halfback’s near decade-long association with the Leythers came to an end following the club’s relegation from Super League, with the 31-year-old joining up with Featherstone, a side that promises to be one of the biggest threats to Leigh upon their return to the Championship.
His departure from Leigh caused controversy. Owner Derek Beaumont was critical of the way Ridyard’s departure was handled, citing the short notice the club received, while the fans reacted negatively to the news that their hometown favourite would leave.
His exit came after a disappointing year for Ridyard, whose opportunities were limited after playing a pivotal role in their return to Super League.
Despite being selected for the first game of the year against Castleford, he was dropped thereafter and wasn’t used for almost two months. After four further appearances, he was loaned out to Huddersfield and didn’t play for the club again.
Nevertheless, Ridyard insisted he will continue to support the club despite moving on.
“I’ve achieved so many things for my own club and many can’t do that so I’m grateful for the opportunity and nobody can take that away from me.
“I’m a Leigh boy and a Leigh fan and I’m rooting for them to get back up, but my job at Featherstone will mean I’m trying to knock them down at the same time.
“Being a local boy you want to play for your hometown team, but I think my time at Huddersfield opened my eyes a bit to the fact there are other clubs out there other than Leigh.”
Reflecting on the club’s single year back in the top flight, Ridyard admitted it had been a frustrating one both personally and collectively.
“For whatever reason I didn’t get picked,” he said.
“It took me a while to get used to the tempo and in every interview, I said it could take up to 10 games for the boys to get to grips with it.
“To be fair to Ben Reynolds he should have probably been picked ahead of me against Castleford but I got the nod. I’d never say no, but I wasn’t fit as I’d rushed back from injury.
“I worked really hard when I wasn’t playing and I got a couple of games but thankfully Huddersfield came in and promised me an opportunity to earn game time. I was grateful to them for that.”
But his overriding disappointment with 2017 was the club’s relegation back to the Championship.
“I’m frustrated not just as a player but a Leigh fan.
“It took me my whole career to get them there. The Million Pound Game had nothing to do with me as I wasn’t available to play but I was gutted for the boys and the club.
“They’ve come a long way to reach that goal. It was only in 2013 when we had to play for free because there were no funds and four years later we were in Super League. It’s a shame what’s happened.”