Barrow Raiders winger Chris Fleming announces retirement
CHRIS Fleming has revealed the pressures of work led to him calling time on his professional playing career after announcing his decision to retire from rugby league over the weekend.
The Barrow Raiders winger confirmed the news via a statement posted on the Raiders' Facebook page on Saturday evening, initially informing the club of his intention to retire via his agent a couple of weeks ago.
Fleming has recently set up an insurance brokerage which has seen rapid growth in the space of several months, but the demands of the business were making it difficult for him to balance his commitments at Barrow, causing him to make the tough decision to step away mid-season.
“My plan was to retire at the end of the season, but unfortunately with the way work has been – I knew it would be a successful business, but I didn't realise how well it would set off and how big it would grow so fast,” said Fleming.
“I was becoming very negative in my attitude trying to work things out, being short with my family and I wasn't really enjoying it. Unfortunately, work, my family and my friends come first, so I had to make that choice.
“The thing with it is I work when other people don't work, so I have to fit my life around other people and travelling up to Barrow on a Tuesday and a Thursday, having to leave work at 3pm and getting home at 10.30pm, it's two nights a week I could have worked.
“I was wanting to pull my own work in the company, wanting to put more effort in, and it was just putting a lot of strain on me mentally and physically. It wasn't an easy decision, but at the minute I think it's the right one.”
The 26-year-old brings the curtain down on his professional career having scored 16 tries in 34 appearances for Barrow since moving to Craven Park in 2015, with 11 of those coming last year when he finished as the team's joint-second-highest try-scorer.
However, injuries and the form of fellow wide men Shane Toal and Luke Cresswell have seen Fleming struggle to get into the team and he has only made two appearances this year, with the last of those coming in the 70-2 defeat away to Kingstone Press League One leaders Toronto Wolfpack.
But while a lack of game-time this year played a part in his decision to retire now as well, Fleming takes nothing but good memories from his time with the Raiders – particularly the friendships he has made among the players.
“Honestly, I can say the lads I've met through the club have been brilliant,” said Fleming. “Going back to when I started, I'm still good mates with Craig Briscoe, who I met through the club, Dalli (Jamie Dallimore), Ashy (Karl Ashall) and all the Lancashire lads I've travelled with, we've all become very close.
“It is a good, close-knit club, the fans have been second to none and given me all their support over the years, and helped me through a couple of difficult times.
“I was a bit disappointed I had to come to the decision and call it at day, but with everything that's happening I had no other choice.”
Fleming admitted he could return to playing amateur rugby one day and would like do to that with his community club Ashton Bears, who he remains grateful to for all of the help and support they gave him as a youngster.
But as far as playing at professional level again is concerned, the former Warrington Wolves Academy player will not be reversing his decision and has been wished well for the future by all of his Raiders team-mates.
“I have no intentions of going to play for another club,” said Fleming. “I wouldn't think that's fair in any way and that's not the type of person I am, it was just a very hard decision.
“I've got good mates throughout the club and I'm very close to every single player there. I got well-wishes off everybody; Mossy (Nathan Mossop) and Dalli especially had a few nice words for me, I've only been mates with Brett Carter since the start of the year, but we've got quite close and are good mates.
“It wasn't an easy decision or one I've made lightly, but it was affecting me outside of rugby and I couldn't live like that.”