There can often be an 'easy way out' feel whenever veteran footballers call time on their playing days, especially when their decision comes after niggling injuries have made for a long, hard slog of a season 

Legendary ex-Celtic winger Bobby Lennox, the last of the Lisbon Lions to retire from the game, was known to espouse the sage advice: “Never hang up the boots at the end of a season. Go back in for pre-season training, get as fit as you possibly can and if you then still feel like calling it quits, well that’s the time to walk away.”

Surprisingly, his words appear to have no special resonance for Celtic-daft Tam Hanlon, the veteran St Roch's defender, who has opted to head off into the Garngad sunset despite the best efforts of all and sundry at the Candy Rock.

"The coronavirus lockdown back in March bringing last season to a premature end was definitely the final straw for me” revealed the 39-year-old who shot to fame in 2016 after a stunning hat-trick of long-range goals turning out for Pollok in a Newlandsfield game against Neilston caught the imagination of football-minded people up and down the country and culminated in Hanlon making the Junior history books with an appearance on cult Sky TV programme Soccer AM.

He insisted: "I know my own body and there’s no doubts I’m fit enough to continue for at least a couple of seasons but being perfectly honest, the thought of calling it a day had been running through my head for some time.

"St Roch's is a terrific club but a lot has changed in the two years since I came on board, not least of all the departures of the manager who signed me, Andy Cameron, followed by Stevie Rankin, two great characters.

"That’s no slight on Paul Kelly, whose taking up the reins brought an upturn in results and he picked me to play in a lot of games to be fair but I was not best pleased to be dropped because I missed training to take my daughter to hospital.

"My replacement Paul Tierney did very well and I had to bide my time waiting to get back into the scheme of things however picking up a glute muscle injury in early December prolonged my period on the outside looking in and a spate of weather-enforced postponements only made things worse.

"I eventually made a comeback in a rather inglorious 4-0 West of Scotland Cup defeat by Lanark United in early March but that was to be our very last outing before the Covid shutdown came into effect and sadly the last time I kicked a ball for the Candy.

"Not having games or training sessions killed off what enthusiasm I had left and it just felt right to give the game up."

A look back at his often illustrious career shows the ultra-competitive Hanlon bursting onto the Junior scene at the now defunct Bailleston Juniors as a discovery of gaffer Frank McAleer before being lured by Derek 'Tiddler' Brown to Lanark United where he was to spend nine years playing under the likes of Tony McInally and latterly Tam McDonald until McInally’s assuming the manager’s chair at Shotts Bon Accord brought a move to Hannah Park.

A fall-out with Macca led to Hanlon moving to Pollok under John Richardson and he missed out on Shotts winning the 2012 Scottish Junior Cup but a quirk of coincidence saw McDonald take over at the Lanarkshire outfit and Hanlon returned to establish himself as a defensive mainstay however now Pollok boss McInally opted to renew their acquaintances for a third time and Hanlon moved to the Glasgow Southside where he was a fans favourite till joining St Roch's in the season before last.

"Going by my track record, I’ll probably end up playing for a former manager should I ever go back on my quit decision," he said.

"Paul has left the door open for me at St Roch's if I do change my mind and I appreciate the gesture but right now I’m concentrating on giving encouragement to my 10-year-old son Lennon who is showing signs of promise.

"I'm also finding it hugely enjoyable to help out Aldo Lindsay [son of former Rob Roy boss Jimmy] working with Bailleston Amateurs so spare time is not something I have in abundance.

"I’ve been around long enough to know you can never say never in football but a return to playing is way down on my list of things to do."

Hanlon’s intentions differ contrastingly with that of an even more renowned ex-Pollok playing legend, Stevie Aitchison, who has agreed to take up a development coaching post at another of his former clubs, Rutherglen Glencairn.

The 44-year-old Aitchy, previously No.2 under Brian McGinty at both Irvine Meadow and Rossvale, will take up an assistant post with Glencairn Under 21s boss Alex McCarthur.

He said: "I wanted to get back in the game and had spoken to Martin Ferry down at Kilbirnie Ladeside over giving him a helping hand but unfortunately Kilbirnie’s training nights clashed with family activities.

"Alex has a number of outstanding young prospects and I’m looking forward to working with them."

Friendly Fixtures today (various kick off times) 
Gartcairn v Rossvale, Cambuslang Rangers v Beith, Largs Thistle v Dalry Thistle, Whitburn v Thorniewood Utd, Muirkirk v Craigmark, Hurlford Utd v Darvel, Maybole v Bonnyton Thistle, Glasgow University v Vale of Clyde, Wishaw v Rutherglen Glencairn, St Roch's v Pollok, Glenafton v Kello Rovers, Neilston v Greenock, Johnstone Burgh v Drumchapel Utd, Kilsyth Rangers v Rob Roy, St Anthony's v Renfrew, Royal Albert v Lesmahagow, Stoneyburn v Bellshill Athletic, Forth Wanderers v East Kilbride Thistle.