THIS really is the end of an era.
Andy Booth’s decision to end his playing career and protect his body for a long and happy retirement is truly significant for the club and the fans.
Soon to be 36 and with a creaking back to match those grisly knees, it’s a wise move from the physical point of view not to put himself through (what is promised to be) an arduous pre-season and then 10 months of League I battles in search of a return to the Championship.
From Town’s point of view, it leaves them needing to import a quality strike-force leader on the pitch to complement the skills of Anthony Pilkington, Gary Roberts, rookie marksman Lee Novak and anyone else Lee Clark chooses to draft in.
As for the fans, they are losing a homegrown legend who is held in such high esteem not just because he is one of them but because he has given nothing less than 100% since he first pulled on the blue and white stripes at senior level in 1992.
Boothy is the last playing link with Town’s only ever Wembley winners – the 1994-95 play-off victors who downed Bristol Rovers to go up under Neil Warnock.
Many of that team – Darren Bullock, Tom Cowan, Ronnie Jepson and Iain Dunn to name but a few – have become incredibly popular in Town folklore.
None of them, however, are loved in the same way as Boothy, the lad from Oakes who played junior football locally, made the Town Boys teams and was brought to the club by Gerry Murphy and George Mulhall.
He was given his debut by Eoin Hand as a substitute in the 1-0 defeat by Fulham at Craven Cottage on March 10, 1992, scored his first goal the following season in a 2-2 draw at Blackpool and then shot to prominence in 1993-94 under Warnock, helping the team stave off relegation and enjoy a day in the sun at Wembley in the Autoglass Trophy final against Swansea.
The following campaign, of course, Town won promotion on the same stage, Boothy scored the opening goal and his place in the affections of the supporters was secure.
Town fans have always appreciated hard work and honesty from those lucky enough to play for the club, and the fact he’s right at the top of the list with goalscoring legends George Brown and Jimmy Glazzard is just a bonus.
He has always played with heart and drive, giving his best to help teammates give theirs, and he has never once shirked a battle.
A powerful, quick raider in his early days, he has always had good control allied to a subtle touch and that’s why he so rarely gives the ball away when linking Town attacks.
Add to that his fantastic heading ability – one of the best in the league over the past two decades – and his predatory finishing instincts, and you’ve got all the ingredients of a quality No9 (even though he prefers to wear his favourite number of 23).
Click below for some of the highlights of the frontman's long career - including Wembley goals.Related content
Accommodating and unassuming off the pitch, he has been a fantastic ambassador on it and will no doubt give the same loyal service and commitment in his new role at the Galpharm.
Everyone will wish him well because he has worn the blue and white stripes with pride and distinction and shown the club – and fans – are close to his heart.