Aaron Moffett retires after 14 trophies in 13 seasons of medals and memories
On 13 times across 13 seasons Aaron Moffett took centre-stage for Dollingstown as captain lifting silverware.
Although the first man in club colours to get his hands on a trophy thanks to the skipper’s armband, it was always in celebration of the collective achievement.
But the 34-year-old centre-back recently stood in the spotlight for the final time - and first in honour of his individual contribution - following a decision to retire after over a decade at the heart of the Dollybirds defence.
Moffett’s hometown club Portadown made a first appearance at Planters Park for the friendly fixture that served as part of the two Irish League clubs’ pre-season preparations but, significantly, offered fans, friends and family a chance to recognise the efforts of a man so central to Dollingstown’s progress.
Moffett walks away from the game boasting a 14-strong medal collection in total that includes a clean sweep of the major Mid-Ulster League honours alongside Bob Radcliffe Cup and Intermediate Cup glory since joining Dollingstown in 2008.
A guard of honour, pre-match presentation and standing ovation as he left the Planters Park pitch for the final time proved a fitting finale to one of the most decorated and respected careers across intermediate football.
Although uncomfortable with the fanfare, given a reputation built on sacrifice for the team, Moffett was appreciative of the opportunity to thank those so supportive of his career - plus raise some welcome funds.
“I was blown away by everything on the day,” said Moffett. “I would never have expected anything on that level but for everyone involved to plan and take part in that way meant a lot.
“I would especially like to thank Portadown for the presentation of an embroidered pennant to mark the occasion, it was a special touch and really means a lot.
“From the start I didn’t want to do anything to disrupt the preparations of both clubs for the season ahead and that was a big concern.
“But I cannot thank the two teams enough for being so accommodating.
“For Portadown to agree to come to Planters Park for the first time was really special and fitting in so many ways for that last game to be against my hometown club.
“I’m also grateful to so many family, friends and ex-team-mates for coming down on the day, to those who made it and others who sent me messages or got in touch.
“Thanks to everyone’s generosity any funds will be split between MacMillan Cancer, a fund to help families in the area affected by the impact of covid and the club itself.
“Once Hubert (Watson, Dollingstown chairman) heard about my decision he stepped in to get everything organised and I really appreciate his efforts.
“But we are talking about the chairman of the club who is at every training session and game offering to help out in whatever way possible.
“He sets the example and is a major part of why Dollingstown is such a close-knit and family club across the journey up Mid-Ulster football and into the Irish League.”
Moffett may have opted to hang up his boots but will remain linked to Dollingstown as part of the club committee - with his final trophy as captain considered the most significant following last season’s Intermediate Cup triumph.
“I’m 34 now and with so much uncertainty over the past year or so around the coronavirus it just felt like the right time to go out off the back of that Intermediate Cup win and fact I never wanted to play for another club,” said Moffett. “After all, you can’t get that yard of pace back if you never had it to begin with!
“Now the plan is to go on to the committee for this season, help the club out that way and see how things develop from there.
“I think the final trophy for me as a Dollingstown player will go down as the greatest given the prestige of the Intermediate Cup and fact it’s the first senior prize won in the club’s history.
“I’ve been involved in some special teams but walking out in 2014 as captain of the first side to play in the Irish League was a big personal moment and something I’ll always be proud to have done with Dollingstown.
“Growing up, I was a fan of Loughgall during the Alfie Wylie era and felt it would be brilliant to one day play for a club with that same sense of team spirit and camaraderie, with everyone in it together.
“I found that at Dollingstown over the past 13 years and it was thanks to Hubert and so many others around the club, not to mention the players I shared so many amazing times with over that period.
“I only ever had two managers at Dollingstown - Gary Duke was massive for me and although I never had any intention of leaving Dollingstown, when Stephen Uprichard came in I knew I wanted to play under him.
“I’ve seen so many players come into the club over my time and would hope everyone felt the same sense of welcome I did when I first joined.
“I always felt that was key to what we achieved.
“The success was obviously a massive part of what I will look back on but, really, it comes down to the people.”