PERTH Glory stalwart Jamie Harnwell is looking forward to playing the sport he loves as a game, rather than as a job, and running out for Sorrento with brother Todd.
Harnwell, a former Community Newspaper Group columnist, announced his retirement from Glory earlier this week and will take up an off-field development role after this Sunday’s clash against Gold Coast at Perth Oval.
He has always said he would return to play for the Seagulls in the State Premier League and he is looking forward to a change of pace.
“I’m really looking forward to training two nights a week and playing on the weekends, and the game not being a job any more, and getting back to really enjoying and loving it,” he said.
Harnwell played mostly as a defender after his National Soccer League debut against Brisbane in 1998.
A surprise move forward in 2006-07, “during a difficult time for the club and myself,” provided Harnwell with an opportunity to score a hat-trick, which he rates as one of his career highlights.
“The manager was looking to move on to new players and it looked like I would be leaving the club,” he said.
“To score that hat-trick, and the following year to score a goal when the club had gone four games without a goal, and on my first start I managed to score – things like that were really good.
“My career was in two halves. The first half in the NSL was all about the team, it was about winning championships, winning leagues.
"The second half, the team’s not been quite as successful but I picked up individual honours and became captain, was top goalscorer, things like that, so it’s been a funny sort of ride.”
Harnwell will look back fondly on two NSL titles and four grand final appearances, while the first time Glory and Sydney FC met in the inaugural A-League season was also memorable.
“One of the players who stands out for me was Dwight Yorke, in the first year of the A-League for Sydney,” he said.
“I’m a massive Manchester United supporter and to play against someone who won so many trophies, the FA Cup when they did the treble, was a huge thrill for me. You could still see he was a class player.”
After breaking the Glory games record held by Bobby Despotovski late last year, Harnwell indicated that retirement might not be far off.
While he is comfortable that his time has come, he is not sure how he will feel come kick-off time on Sunday.
“I’m a bit nervous; you are never sure how you are going to react when you get to the last game or the last day,” he said.
“I managed through the press conference without shedding a tear, which was good but it’s going to be a bitter-sweet day on Sunday.”