JIM Bentley says his 10 years with the Shrimps have been the most memorable of his career.
After choosing Morecambe ahead of several other clubs to sign from Telford in 2002 Bentley skippered the side to three Conference semi-finals and an FA Cup third round tie at Ipswich and will always be remembered as the man who lifted the trophy at Wembley when the Shrimps beat Exeter to reach the Football League for the first time in their history.
The Shrimps boss, whose testimonial is against Everton this Saturday at the Globe Arena, said: “Overall they have been 10 amazing years for me. On the field we had some great seasons and some memorable games and the victory at Wembley was something we will never forget.
“There have been a couple of disappointments but overall the club has had 10 of its most memorable years and I am proud to have been a part of that.
“The high points for me include the two goals I scored against Chester and the wins over Preston North End and Wolves in the Carling Cup and there are plenty more games that I remember.
“There haven’t been too many low points but getting sent off at Ipswich in the FA Cup was a real disappointment for me after we had worked so hard to get there.”
Bentley says he will call time on his playing career at the game against his boyhood heroes.
Now 36, the former Shrimps captain said he will play some part in the game but is unlikely to be seen again competitively in a Morecambe shirt.
Looking ahead to the game, in which the teams will run out to Everton’s popular Z Cars theme, he said: “I will definitely look to play some part in the game because it has always been a bit of an ambition to play against Everton.
“I might look to kick the game off and then play a small part at the end when everyone is tiring but that will probably be it for me.
“My last first-team game was 14 months ago and it is almost impossible to manage a club and maintain your fitness levels to be ready for the first team
“I have to concentrate on managing the club and that is hard enough as myself and Ken McKenna spend hours on the road watching games as well as spending a lot of time organising a wide range of things such as training regimes, pick up points, equipment and even food for the players.”
Bentley also said Saturday’s game would give him the perfect chance to thank the fans who had supported him since he joined the club.He said: “From the minute I signed the fans have been amazing. I have always had a fantastic relationship with them and I think they appreciate the fact that I always give 100 per cent.
“Those fans have always inspired me and I now see Morecambe very much as a second home. The club means everything to me and I hope I can help see it grow from strength to strength now as a manager.”
Everton have confirmed they will be bringing a strong squad to the Globe Arena and the Toffees have already sold 1,500 tickets, ensuring a bumper crowd for the Shrimps’ boss.
The club’s Chief Executive, Rod Taylor, is urging Morecambe fans to also turn up to support Bentley.
He said: “Jim has been an inspiration for this club and his 10 years with us have been memorable. He has been at the heart of that as a player, and now as a manager and I hope he gets the support he deserves.”
Supporters can buy tickets before the game but there is also entry on the day with tickets costing just £7 and £3.
The game kicks off at 2pm.