One player not returning to Victoria Park next season will be skipper Ryan Donaldson. He leaves having made 151 appearances for the club over two spells. He'll forever be remembered for scoring the decisive penalty kick in the Promotion Final prior to Brad James save to take the club back to The EFL.
Dave Challinor commented:
‘I'm really disappointed that Ryan will be leaving the club but fully understand and respect his decision. He's decided to go in a slightly different direction with his career and set himself up for further down the line. Personally he'll be a big miss for us as a management team, a top professional, trains brilliantly, a driver of standards, a leader, a hugely valuable and respected member of our promotion winning team and most important of all a good person.
He was brought to the club to get the club back to the EFL, he's done that. His parting memory is that his last kick of a football for this club was the decisive penalty at Bristol, to then lift the trophy with Feath, Millenium Square with the fans and the open top bus parade for him is leaving on the highest of highs and it doesn't get any better than that!
From the outside, sometimes players are under valued and he's certainly that for me. You need lots of facets, personalities and characteristics within a successful dressing room and three promotions as a player on his CV is something no one can take away from him. He's bought into the ethos of this football club over the time he's been here and if there's one who epitomises that NSD spirit, it's him. I'd like to thank him for the 18 months since I came into the club, he's been a pleasure to manage and work with, wish him all the best moving forward and he knows he'll always be welcome back at The Vic.
Ryan Donaldson also had a message for the club:
Just felt like it was the right time for me to leave and start something new, had the best 4 years but they've been tough aswell, not many people get a perfect ending but I came pretty close.
Thanks to the manager and all his staff for the hard work they put in, Thanks to the fans for all their support, they make the club what it is. Finally thanks to my team mates, I was so proud to be a part of that group.
Everyone at Hartlepool United wishes Ryan Donaldson all the best in the next steps of his career.