Mark Whatley will walk away from Arbroath as the most successful captain in the Angus club’s 143-year history.
Whatley has left the Gayfield side to pen a two-year deal with local rivals Montrose, as revealed by The Courier on Tuesday.
However, after ending a seven year association with Red Lichties, Whatley can look back with pride having led Arbroath to two of their three titles – the League Two trophy in 2017 and League One in 2019.
Whatley has also been an integral part of the Arbroath side that has clinched a third successive season in the Championship, confirming its’ status as Scottish football’s highest-ranked part-time club.
It’s been quite a journey since his move from Spartans in 2014 but, at 30, Whatley’s career hasn’t yet reached its’ final destination.
He’s determined to taste more success just 14 miles up the road at Links Park with the images of his Gayfield glory days living long in his memory and adorning the walls of the entrance to Arbroath’s ground.
Thank you Mark Whatley
For 7 seasons we have been extremely fortunate to have midfielder @_MarkWhatley at our football club. Signed by Paul Sheerin in June 2015 from Spartans, Mark made an instant impact at the club.
— Arbroath FC (@ArbroathFC) May 10, 2021
“I’ve had quite an incredible seven years at Arbroath,” said Whatley. “It’s only now that I’m going that I’ve started to piece it all together.
“Life moves so fast that you don’t often stop to take stock but it hit me when I started to get messages of support after Arbroath announced my departure.
“There aren’t many Arbroath players who know what it feels like to lift a trophy. Before I moved there the club had only ever won one title.
“To lift two championships, as captain, is very special. I can walk away with my head held high as the most successful captain in the club’s history.
“My time at Arbroath will always be special to me. I’ve made so many friends.
“There are so many great people at the club and my memories from those title winning days in Stirling and Brechin will live with me forever.
“We all played our part in Arbroath’s success and the club will continue to go from strength-to-strength without me. But the time is right to move on.”
Whatley was at the heart of the Arbroath midfield 242 times but having made just three starts last term he knew it was time to move on.
A switch to Montrose is the perfect fit for Whatley.
He lives locally and has watched on in admiration as Montrose have laid the foundations to emulate the success enjoyed by their neighbours.
Under Stewart Petrie’s five year reign Montrose have gone from a club battling against the spectre of regular pyramid play-off appearances to one that won the League Two title in 2018 and has finished fourth in League One three years running.
Montrose narrowly lost out on the Championship play-off final earlier this week after a 3-1 extra-time defeat at Morton and Whatley is determined to take them to the next level.
“I’m 30 and still have a lot of football left in me,” said Whatley. “I want to win more things and believe I can do that with Montrose.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club and the way it operates behind the scenes. Like Arbroath, that has translated onto the pitch.
GABLE ENDIES SIGN DOUBLE LEAGUE WINNING LICHTIES CAPTAIN
Montrose FC have moved quickly to sign Mark Whatley on a two year deal, bringing the former Arbroath FC captain to Links Park until the summer of 2023. pic.twitter.com/t8v9Dgixwr
— Montrose FC (@MontroseFC) May 12, 2021
“Montrose have had a lot of success over the last few years. They have won a league and have been knocking on the door of the Championship.
“The goal has to be to take that to the next level and emulate what Arbroath have achieved. There’s absolutely no reason why that can’t happen.
“Dick Campbell and his backroom staff have done a remarkable job at Arbroath but so too have Stewart Petrie and his coaches. I can’t wait to work with them next season.”
New deal for Masson
Meanwhile, Montrose have handed a new two-year contract to long-serving midfielder Terry Masson.
Masson has been at Links Park since 2010 and has penned a deal that will keep him at the club until 2023.
“I have said many times that Terry’s commitment and dedication to the club has been quite outstanding,” said boss Stewart Petrie. “He is playing at the top of his game right now and we are delighted to have him for another couple of years.”