League 1 club confirm return of veteran goal-kicking expert with hugely impressive milestones still in reach

Ben Olawumi
Martyn Ridyard

Martyn Ridyard prepares to kick a goal for Leigh - then Centurions - at the 2019 Summer Bash - Alamy

Rochdale Hornets have announced the re-signing of Martyn Ridyard on a one-year deal for the 2024 League 1 season, with the veteran closing in on 3,000 career points scored.

37-year-old Ridyard joins long-time pal and team-mate Gregg McNally in returning to the Hornets ahead of next year.

Like McNally, the playmaker is a certified lower league icon, with 240 appearances made between the second and third tiers before games in spin-offs such as the Championship Shield are even brought into consideration.

The Salford-born ace makes the move back across the North West to the Crown Oil Arena, where he made a single appearance in the 2020 season as a loanee before that was cut short by the COVID-19 Pandemic, having spent the last two years with Oldham.

Rochdale Hornets confirm return of veteran goal-kicking expert Martyn Ridyard for 2024 League 1 season

Ridyard’s career began as a junior with Leigh Miners, briefly spending time with Leigh – then Centurions – in their academy after leaving school.

He would eventually get his breakthrough with the Centurions in 2009, and become an undisputed club legend over the 11 years which followed.

Barring a short hiatus spent between Huddersfield Giants & Featherstone Rovers, the half-back would be with Leigh for over a decade, featuring 250 times for the club as they became a dominant force in the second tier and even reached Super League via The Qualifiers.

Notably, Ridyard scored 2,008 points in a Leigh shirt, kicking a whopping 838 conversions as well as flying over for 80 tries. To this day, he remains the club’s highest-ever points scorer and highest-ever goal scorer. He’s also in the top five in terms of tries alone, with it looking an almost impossible task for anyone now to reach those same tallies as a Leopard.

Having been loaned out to Rochdale in that 2020 season, the stalwart moved on from Leigh ahead of 2021 as they were promoted back up to Super League to replace Toronto Wolfpack amid the Canadian outfit’s demise.

Ridyard linked up with Swinton for a year before moving onto Oldham, and now has 2,690 points to his name across 340 career appearances, so will fancy his chances – all being well – of taking those tallies past 3,000 and 350 over the next couple of years.

If the regard he’s held in by all at Leigh wasn’t felt enough, it was further proved in August as owner Derek Beaumont spotted him in the crowd under the arch at Wembley, and took the Challenge Cup trophy over to him.

Ridyard returns to Rochdale: ‘I still feel I have plenty to offer’

Adding to the milestones Ridyard can reach in 2024, he’s just five tries off 100 in a lengthy career, which has seen him lift the Northern Rail Cup amongst many other pieces of silverware.

Having penned his deal to return to Rochdale, he told the Hornets’ club website: “I’m really excited. After a couple of meetings with Andy (Mazey, Rochdale chairman) and Gary (Thornton, head coach) about the direction the club is going and the role I will be involved in, it was an easy decision to join.

“I Still feel I have plenty to offer on the field, but the chance to also assist Gary and his coaching staff really excited me, and I’m looking forward to working alongside them. I can’t wait to get started.”

Chief Mazey meanwhile added: “This is a signing that signals our intent as a club to progress both on and off the field in 2024 and beyond. Riddy, as he showed playing against us this year, remains one of the best pivots operating outside of Super League and is a leader, standard setter, decision-maker, goal-kicker and prolific points scorer.

“He will also take his first steps into coaching with us here at Rochdale working under Gary as part of an improved coaching structure in 2024. Martyn lives and breathes rugby league and will be a big voice on and off the pitch for us having done everything you can possibly do at Championship and League 1 levels, and also had a successful spell in Super League.

“That level of  experience will be massive for Gary and the group, and will help drive standards and expectations at this club.”

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