As reported earlier today on this site, Yeovil Town midfielder Darren Way has now officially retired from the game. The former Swansea City player officially revealed his intentions at this lunchtime's press call and will now hang up his boots. On the plus side, he will remain at the club, taking on a coaching role at Huish Park.
Darren made 274 appearances for the club across three spells at Huish Park, scoring 36 goals along the way, and earnt a reputation for being the definitive terrier in midfield. On occasions opposition players and team-mates described him as a rat, a terrier and of course a weasel for the way that he would constantly bite at opposition ankles in his role as the man who broke up midfield play. That made him perfect for a five-and-a year almost unbroken partnership with playmaker Lee Johnson and thus Darren became a critical member of the side that rose from the Conference into League One.
In January 2006, Darren was transferred for a fee of £150,000 to league rivals Swansea City, but this was to be a less fruitful period of his career, with a succession of shin injuries constantly putting him on the treatment table. As he sat out his time at the Liberty Stadium, the Swans rose up from League One to the Championship, meaning that when Darren came back from his injury problems, a long list of new midfielders had been drafted in and Darren found himself well down the pecking order. On one of his rare appearances for the Welsh club in a match at the Liberty Stadium, Darren's substitute appearance brought him a standing ovation from the travelling Yeovil fans despite him being in new club colours.
Manager Russell Slade brought him back to Huish Park during the 2007-08 season where he notched up a further eight appearances on loan. However, a hamstring strain meant he headed back to the Liberty Stadium in early 2008.
The club's second attempt to bring him back was more successful, with Swansea waiving the remainder of the transfer fee they owed the Glovers to allow Darren to return to Huish Park without money needing to change hands. A further 19 appearances were notched up, but disaster was to strike in December 2008 when a road traffic accident put Darren and club employee Bruce James in a critical state. Darren suffered a broken left femur, a broken left kneecap, broken and a dislocated right elbow, a broken and dislocated left hip, multiple fractures of his right wrist, damage to his right hand, a ruptured left bicep, and deep cuts to both shins and soft tissue damage. He had nine operations to help him rehabilitate, and his attitude to his injuries was extraordinary, such that in July 2009, he appeared as a 90th minute substitute in Terry Skiverton's testimonial. That was to be his last appearance in a Yeovil Town club shirt, and merely a minute of 'Weasel' on the pitch was enough to induce a number of tears in the stands.
Since then, Darren has been spotted scouting for the club for new players, having been part of the scouting team that recruited former team-mate Shaun MacDonald from Swansea City on his current loan deal. He has also taken the team for pre-match warm-ups at numerous matches this season, and has even been spotted jogging around the streets of Yeovil - an incredible sight given the list of injuries above.
He will now officially join the coaching team at Huish Park, and so as one door closes another one opens. This may be a sad day for Darren in that it ends his playing career, but if we know him well, we're sure that he will channel his thoughts towards making a success of his coaching position. If anyone deserves a clean start and new success, then Darren does. The very best of luck to him in the present and in the future.
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