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Price-less

Article for official Shamrock Rovers website on former club captain Aidan Price.

http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/news/35-news/1749-price-less

The news this week that Aidan Price will be playing elsewhere next season means that Shamrock Rovers will be moving on without a player who had been the club’s longest serving member of the current playing squad. It also means that the club will be without a player who straddled the five year period when the Hoops moved from playing out of Tolka Park as a home venue in the First Division to the Tallaght era and winning the League of Ireland title. With that in mind, it is fitting that http://www.shamrockrovers.ie looks back at Aidan Price’s five year career with the Hoops.

In the 2006 season, Pat Scully was the new manager at Shamrock Rovers. Scully brought Aidan Price with him from Kilkenny City and installed him as captain of the Hoops. It was a difficult time for Rovers who were had emerged from Examinership the previous season and Scully had to assemble a squad on a limited budget. Price was instrumental in winning the First Division title that season allowing Rovers to get back to top flight football at the earliest opportunity. He was able to lift the trophy as captain in the final league game and went on to win the Shamrock Rovers Player of the Year that season.

The Tallaght native knows what it means to play for Rovers and what Rovers means to its fans. As he told the Evening Herald in July this year “Initially when I signed up I was told how much of a family club it is and how much it means to people,” he recalls. “I was told you don’t experience it until you’re in there but it’s true. As soon as we signed up we had untold amounts of people travelling to places like Cobh to watch us play First Division football. They showed their support for the club, how much it meant to them and how much they wanted us to succeed. We were such a young team then and to succeed that year was brilliant. I remember the last game of the season was down in Cobh and there were men of 70 years of age crying just to see the club getting back to where it should be with the right people looking after it. People who had the club at heart. That was incredible.”

His words about the emotion of Rovers fans seeing the club being back where they belong were echoed in the conclusion of this 2010 season which turned out to be Price’s last at the club. In the intervening years, Price would be a key member of the Shamrock Rovers squad. His 2007 season was limited to just nine league appearances due to a metatarsal injury. In the following seasons, Price had to bide his time before getting into the team where solid centre back pairings had been formed by Barry Ferguson/ Darragh Maguire (2008), Maguire/Craig Sives (2009) and Sives/Dan Murray (2010). However whenever Price played he always gave it the very best that he had and over the five years in the club he made 146 league appearances. Price managed to score one league goal and one FAI Cup goal during his time with the Hoops. Both goals were scored against Sligo Rovers and both in Tolka Park. No surprise that his first goal was from a corner, as he trotted up for virtually every corner the Hoops had. The surprise was that it took nearly three years for that first goal to arrive. His second goal was a diving header in the 2009 season when the match against Sligo Rovers was controversially moved to Tolka Park ahead of the Real Madrid friendly game. But it was his defensive performances that will live long in the memory.

In August this year, Price’s strong performances in the League of Ireland and in Europa League action against Juventus, saw him pick up the league’s Player of the Month award. His strong performances were juxtaposed in October with one performance, or more particularly, one mistake that nearly cost Rovers the league. In what could have been a season defining moment, it was a mistake by Price in the final minutes against Sporting Fingal that seemed to end Rovers’ title hopes. With Rovers leading one nil with three minutes to go and all the home fans in the stadium looking for Price to clear the ball out of the stadium when facing his own goalkeeper, Price’s delay allowed Gary O’Neill to poach an unlikely equaliser. Seconds later, Fingal got a second and it seemed the league title was lost. It would have been a shame if those last few minutes against Fingal would have prevented Price claiming a league winners medal. It is testament to the fortitude of the Rovers squad, and Price in particular after his mistake, that they managed to pick themselves up after that incredible disappointment and win the title by getting the required four points from the last two games. As Jason Maloney wrote in the Hoops Scene the Rovers match day programme this year, the player was not without his critics but nobody could fault his effort. “While he may have taken a lot of criticism (most of it unjust) from certain sections of our support in his time at the club, he has always shown great character and fought back with solid defensive displays. He deserves immense kudos for the way he fights his way back after setbacks.”

When the news of his departure emerged this week, it was clear the level of affection that the Shamrock Rovers fans have for Price. The SRFC Ultras website (www.srfcforum.net) had a thread several pages in length with fans thanking Price for his contribution to the club and many were disappointed with the news. Talking to another Hoops Scene contributor Justin Mason, he makes the point about the unique position Price will always have at the club. “He was a great servant to Shamrock Rovers. During his time here, he captained the club for three seasons, winning player of the year in 2006. Most importantly, he uniquely won the First Division title with the club in his first season and the League of Ireland title with the club in his last season.”

The final word goes to the player himself who was interviewed in autumn for the Rovers programme. Price at the time spoke of that First Division title win and the hope of picking up the League title come end of the 2010 season. He also spoke of the journey the club had made during his time at Rovers and the valuable contribution made by others including players who, like Price now, have moved on from the club. “Winning the First Division was brilliant and I’m grateful that I experienced that. But the club wanted to get back to where we are now. You don’t forget that or forget how hard people worked to make it happen; people within the club and the players who have been and gone. We want to be winning stuff. That is the way it should be at Rovers. This is how big the club is, the biggest in the country, with the biggest support. We need to be winning trophies and that is what we aim to do. We want to sustain this challenge and show the drive and determination to stay at the top. It is important for us to get that first trophy as a group. Hopefully we can do that this year.” Thankfully his request came to fruition and Price ended his career at Rovers with that League trophy. Everyone here at Shamrock Rovers wishes him the very best in the rest of his career. Thanks Aido!

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