Joe Cardle has dismissed suggestions that he joined Kelty Hearts for financial reasons as the former Dunfermline hero thrives with the ambitious Fifers — on and off the pitch.
Cardle, 34, is fresh from being named League Two player of the month for August after notching two goals in four league outings.
In total, he has found the net four times in all competitions and dazzled alongside an array of attacking talent including his old Pars pal Kallum Higginbotham, Jamie Barjonas and Nathan Austin.
Cardle’s blistering start should come as no surprise, given he was sensational during Partick Thistle’s League One title win last term.
👏 @JojoCardle bags his 3⃣rd league goal of the season!
— SPFL (@spfl) August 30, 2021
He notes: “Leaving Partick Thistle came as a shock. I had a good season — scored and assisted a lot of goals — and I was expecting to still be there. But football is a ruthless game.”
Nevethertheless, it is no disrespect to those clubs in the fourth tier to suggest Cardle could still be operating at a higher level.
But Cardle has explained why joining the Maroon Machine was the perfect move as he juggles his playing career with a coaching school — The Joe Cardle Academy — and a young family.
“It’s never been about money for me. It never has been,” Cardle tells Courier Sport. “Kelty was the right move for me as I balance a playing career with my football academy.
“New Central Park is two minutes from my house and the part-time training works around the other things in my life.
“I’ve no regrets about how things have worked out. I’m thriving playing under this manager [Kevin Thomson], I’ve got brilliant teammates and we should be right up there in League Two.”
Cardle’s admiration for boss Thomson shines through.
Impressing in his maiden job in management, Thomson was also named manager of the month for August — securing an awards double for Kelty.
“He [Thomson] was a top player; a top professional,” Cardle continued. “He has played at an elite level and takes those standards into his management.
“Because he reached such a high level as a player, I know he’ll have the drive and belief to do the same as a manager.
“From what I’ve seen, he definitely has the tools to do that.
“He doesn’t always say a lot, but when he speaks, people listen and he makes it count.”
‘It’s only a start’
Kelty, one point ahead of Annan Athletic, face Elgin at New Central Park on Saturday as they seek to continue their momentum.
“To win any league is special — I’ve been lucky enough to win three,” continued Cardle. “We want to climb through the leagues and, living locally, I know what it would mean to the fans.
“But this is only a start. We’ve hit the ground running but to win a league you need to do the business for nine months — and it’s not always pretty. There’s a long way to go.”