PAUL Mullin is ready for fresh challenge at Morecambe – but admits he was sad to leave Accrington Stanley.
The 35-year-old was almost part of the furniture at the Crown Ground, as he entered his 10 th year with the club and has been a massive part of their rise from the UniBond Premier League into the Football League.
He has made the most appearances for the club – his 362nd appearance for Stanley in April 2007 passed Chris Grimshaw's record.
And so for him to move to derby rivals Morecambe on Friday permanently – he had spent a loan spell at Bradford last season – is a big upheaval for him.
"It is weird joining a new club and it is tinged with sadness leaving Stanley," said the 35-year-old. "I have been here so long and there have been plenty of successful and happy times but the club has chanced over the years and it was increasingly difficult for me to stay.
"It is hard leaving. When I went to Bradford I knew it was a loan and it was a chance for me to play at Wembley and I couldn't turn it down but this is totally different.
"It was weird turning up at training but I know a lot of the Morecambe lads and obviosuly ian Craney. It will be weird playing at Accrington for Morecambe – I will have to remember which training rooms I go into – but that's later in the year so I have time to get used to it all."
Mullin, who has been the Player of the Year numerous times during his tenure, was highlighted as the player with the biggest wage at Stanley and, in these cash-strapped times for the club, knew taking him off the wage bill was what.
"It is hard really as I think football and politicians are the only ones who have their wages so openly discussed!
"It wasn't large sums of money but it is just the way things have gone and it became more and more of an issue that the club were keen for me to move and that made it hard to stay.
"But I have a lot of friends at the club – I have total respect for John (Coleman) and Jimmy (Bell) and will keep in touch with all the lads.
"But geographically the Morecambe move made sense – it is a progressive club, it's a great opportunity for me, a new challenge and their defender Jim Bentley says he is relieved he doesn't have to clash heads with me again for about the 10th year running!"
He continued: "It would have been the easiest thing for me to stay at Accrington,see out the final year of my contract and get my testimonial – it would have been easy to hang around.
"But now it is a fresh start and it will give me a kick start for the end of my career."
Mullin is proud of his record – he is the only Reds player to chalk up 400 league games – missing only around 10 matches in his entire career.
"My 450th appearance for Accrington was against Rotherham so I have about 455 now. I am very proud of that. I haven't missed many matches and have been lucky enough to stay clear of injury.
"I think those who have seen me play know that, even if I haven;t scored goals, I have given everything in every game, I have always tried my best and given my all for the club."
And his Stanley highlights in a long and illustrious career?
"Scoring at Woking which got us promoted to the Football League. It was the whole emotion of the day – I had given away a penalty, I scored and I remember I was dead on my feet for the final 10 minutes and then the relief to win and get promoted – that was huge.
"And then there was the first season in the Football League. It was brilliant. I wanted to see if I could play at that level and I found out I could and wish I had done it sooner really.
"But it was a fantastic season and I have had a great time at Accrington – I would like to thank the fans for their support."
Stanley boss John Coleman admitted: "I was sorry to see Paul go. It wasn't about football – it was financial. I still have his poster on my bedroom wall though!"