David McGurk eyes dream end to York City career
11:18am Saturday 26th April 2014 in Sport
RETIRING centre-back David McGurk is dreaming of ending his York City career as a Wembley winner.
The 31-year-old defender does not want anybody to get ahead of themselves at Bootham Crescent with a Sky Bet League Two play-off place yet to be secured ahead of this afternoon's home match with Newport.
But the two-time Press Player of the Year has confessed his biggest remaining ambition in football would be featuring in a possible play-off final for the Minstermen next month - even as an unused substitute - having missed out completely during the double-winning triumphs under the famous arch two years ago.
McGurk was sidelined for the 2012 FA Trophy and Conference play-off final victories and only joined in the celebrations as a non-playing staff member.
Having lost his place to John McCombe this term because of injury, the Middlesbrough-born stalwart has not featured for City since the end of January despite being named on the bench for 12 of the last 13 fixtures.
McGurk was also a beaten Wembley finalist in City's 2009 FA Trophy and 2010 Conference play-off finals but being part of a victorious 16-man squad at the national stadium would represent a fitting finale for a man who has represented the club 333 times.
"Finishing my career by being involved with a promotion-winning team at Wembley is the ideal scenario," McGurk admitted.
"It's not so much fun going on the pitch afterwards in your tracksuit and I can understand why John Terry got changed when Chelsea won the Champions League final and he didn't play.
"I would like to be involved in some part if we got there, but that's a long way off and we can only concentrate on Newport first and, then, take things from there. We have got to try to get over the line as soon as possible and have to expect that Oxford will take six points.
"We have to think like that and, then, it's up to us to take care of ourselves and, if we win today, Oxford can't catch us."
While not expecting to be preferred to McCombe or Keith Lowe at centre-back with City having only conceded three goals in 15 games since the mid-season recruits were paired together, McGurk added he is ready for action if required during the remainder of the campaign whenever that may be concluded.
He added: "I don't want to wish any ill-fortune on John and Keith because they have been immense for us but, if anything does happen, I have kept myself fit and I have got to be ready because every game is massive from now on."
McGurk also explained that his decision to switch to part-time football next season was not influenced by the form of McCombe and Lowe but due to the strain a professional career was beginning to have on his back and the subsequent impact on his home life.
"I made my decision before the Plymouth game in February," he revealed. "I spoke to the gaffer then and I had only just come out of the team so it had nothing to do with the way John and Keith have been doing.
"If I wanted to carry on playing full-time and I wasn't in the team, then I would have had to think about whether I wanted to stay because you always want to play but it's not like I can have had many arguments with the way John and Keith have been playing. They have been quality.
"Me and Keith had a good understanding before John came but, to be honest, it's gone to a new level now. Three goals conceded in 15 games is an unbelievable record for any team.
"It's unheard of and frightening. It's not as though we have been lucky either.
"Nick Pope has not been tested a lot and, when he has been, he's looked different class as well. We just look solid and those two are very good at this level.
"I also think you would be looking at two good centre-halves in League One if the club did get promoted."
McGurk has managed 25 appearances for City this season after the previous two campaigns were decimated by knee, calf and throat problems.
He has also been available for selection for a majority of the matches but the back pain he suffered for a fortnight in January and February persuaded him that it was time to leave the full-time game.
"The decision is mostly to do with my family life," he pointed out. "There have been times this season when I have gone home and it's affecting what I can do with my son and that won't get much easier if I carry on playing full-time.
"I've not missed any games with my knee since the operation. That's been managed well but I have had a couple of problems with my back.
"Since I made the decision to retire, it has been a bit better but, when I go into spasm, it's not fair on my little boy and he's my main priority now. Hopefully, though, I can carry on playing for a couple more years and training only once or twice a week will help."
Harrogate Town, managed by his former Bootham Crescent team-mate Simon Weaver and also including ex-Minstermen Dave Merris and Craig Nelthorpe on their playing roster, would seem the likeliest next destination for McGurk who, when asked about his future plans, replied: "I imagine that I will be playing in the Conference North. There are a few people who want to speak to me and I should have something sorted in the next few weeks."
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