Everyone at Birtley would like to extend their gratitude to our captain Jack Honour, who has been forced to retire due to injury at the tender age of 29.

Jack made his Hoops debut in January 2012 and despite spells away from the club, he went onto make 131 appearances in green & white over the following 11 years, scoring 37 goals. But his on-pitch exploits were more than equalled by his efforts behind the scenes, where his drive and leadership were key in taking his local club all the way from the Northern Alliance (picking up the league cup trophy on the way), to Northern League Division One.

A young looking Jack Honour celebrates with Ben Garrity

Birtley chairman Paul Beat was effusive in his praise for the departing skipper:

“The news about Jack is one that has made me really sad, but also a decision that I completely understand and appreciate, his family and kids especially must come first.”

“Jack has been the epitome of a leader since the day I signed him, the most important signing I made when I was in the dugout, playing in midfield then, he scored some ridiculously important goals for us in our promotion season back to NL2. I’m not sure he’s ever forgiven me for taking him off in our last league game of that season when he wanted to finish top goal-scorer from midfield.”

 “As manager he always kept me on my toes, making sure he pushed me to be looking to bring in the best players we could and demanding the right characters as well, and I know that he’s never stopped wanting success for this club. I know he received several very good offers over the last few years, but he was determined to lead us to NL1 and he was huge again to our promotion last season, it’s such a shame that he’s not going to get the chance to play in NL1 for HIS club.”

 “We all hope to see Jack around the Arrowmark as usual, cheering on his side in Division One – something that would never have been possible without his efforts.”

Honour’s season was cut short last season when he suffered a serious knee injury in training. Jack missed the last two months of the promotion campaign and had an operation in the spring to help try to rectify the injury. Despite his best efforts in pre-season and regaining fitness Jack was unable to take his progress back onto the field. After suffering another setback that needs a second operation Jack has decided to take the difficult decision to step back from the game. 

Richie Barrett and club captain Jack Honour lifting the Northern Alliance League Cup in 2018.

Manager Paul Foster has worked with Jack for a number of years. “Jack rang me as soon as he had been to see the surgeon and it wasn’t good news. There wasn’t anything I could have said to him at that time that would not have made him feel any better. Jack was a vital member of the cog last season, right up until his injury in February. We now know the injury hasn’t got any better after surgery and unfortunately the decision has been taken out of his hands. Jack needs to make sure his family and work come before anything else and his health is all that matters, football is secondary in these situations.”

“If there was any way Jack could have continued to play then being the type of lad he is, I am sure he would have found a way. When the professionals are telling you there isn’t then you have to listen to what they say. It doesn’t make it any easier but any team with 11 Jack Honours in it would win every game, week in and week out. It’s as simple as that. Every team he has played for will tell you exactly the same, he’s old school in every way. He’s a young lad but he’s been brought up playing and being around proper players over the years. Jack knew that winning is all that matters and at any cost. His leadership on and off the pitch as captain has rubbed off on lesser players than him and shows the sort of player he was. He would drag people through games to make sure the club won that game.”

“He was someone you wanted in the trenches with you every week as with Jack you knew you were getting 100%. He will be a huge miss in that playing sense however he will be with us in some sort of capacity. Once he gets his head around things, you don’t let people like Jack walk away easily as he has so much more to give long term. He won’t let our current crop of players rest on their laurels as that is something Jack never did.”

“A top player but more importantly a top lad who will do anything for anyone. I know how much respect he not only has in that dressing room but also around the club in general.”

Paul Bryson added: “It’s terrible news that he has had to retire, absolutely fantastic lad. I have spoken to him twice this week and re-iterated how good he has been for us as managers. He’s wears everything with his heart. You would have in your team every week. He’s a brilliant motivator for other players as well as setting good standards for himself. He’s going to be a huge miss. He’s been here a long time and a brilliant servant to Birtley Town.”

Jack spent time at local rivals Chester-le-Street Town where he played alongside Cestrian legend Craig Marron. The duo picked up their partnership after originally playing for Birtley before making the move down the A167. Maz was quick to pay tribute to a a smashing lad, teammate and competitor. “He’s someone I could rely on to put as much effort in as me, someone you loved having on your side. Even if he wasn’t having the best of games his heart would drag him through. Besides him being a very good player, he’s also a smashing lad and someone I am proud to call a good pal. Playing against him was very different, it’s Birtley v Chester-le-Street. He text me before the game saying this will be strange playing against each other. I responded saying I would never go in on you, he agreed. After 16 minutes he caught me with an elbow, I was raging, 3 minutes later I received a red card! Absolutely headloss! I wish him well in his retirement and hope he stays around the game”

Club Captain Andrew Clarkson was keen to show his appreciation on behalf of the squad. “From a squad’s perspective Jack will be a huge miss for us, there’s no doubt about that. Players like Jack are rare, there hasn’t been a single game I can remember where he didn’t leave everything out on the pitch. He has been an inspiration to play and train alongside for all of us lads, both young and old. There aren’t many players where you can say the club wouldn’t be where it is on the field without them but Jack is one of those.. We know what we’ll be missing by losing Jack but we will be working hard as we can to replace all of the things he brought to us.”

We’ll leave the last words to our chairman…”All the best skipper, and don’t be a stranger. 💚🤍⚽️”

Jack Honour leading out his hometown club.