After 18 years as a columnist with the Scottish Sun it is now time to share my views on football and the ever changing world of the beautiful game on a new platform.
From as early as I can ever remember I have loved football.
All I wanted to do as a kid was to play the game with my friends on any spare piece of ground that we could find. Growing up in the 1970s and coming from a working class background meant that the ball we used during those kickabouts varied day on day.
It didn’t matter to us what condition the sphere we were using was in. From ‘real leather’ balls and plastic blowaways to patched up bladders and tennis balls we just got on with it as we played five-eleveners, headers or World Cup Willie.
Those were magical days when EVERYONE I knew wanted to be a footballer.
I was one of the fortunate ones who actually managed to live the dream when I was offered a contract at Celtic by Parkhead gaffer and Lisbon Lion Billy McNeill.
That happened after a reserve fixture at Dens Park where I was lucky enough to play as left-back behind the late, great Tommy Burns who was returning from injury. I have said many times that Tommy playing that evening was the difference for me – he literally coached me through every step of the 90 minutes and I couldn’t fail to impress.
Signing for Celtic changed my life forever – it gave me credibility as a player in an era when players who left a club the size of Celtic were guaranteed a contract elsewhere.
Inevitably, my career started at the top and I worked my way down. Not that I’m complaining; there were better players than me who never kicked a ball professionally.
In truth I was NEVER good enough to play for Celtic’s first team and even though I elected to only sign on a part-time basis that didn’t matter – I could have trained 24/7 without the extra training being enough to allow me to make the ‘big time’.
Instead, my journey in football began in the Reserve Leagues under the watchful eye of Bobby Lennox and alongside others who would go on to have very decent careers – Stuart Balmer, David Elliot, Gerry Britton, Stevie Fulton, Mark McNally, Andy Murdoch, Alex Mathie and Gerry Creaney were just some of the boys I had the pleasure of sharing a changing room and pitch with.
So, yes, my football life started on the streets and spare bits of grass in and around Milton of Campsie but it was on the pitches of Barrowfield and Helennvale astroturf that my professional career was spawned and developed in the first instance.
As well as sharing memories of my time in the game I’ll comment on the pressing matters within Scottish football and the wider football community.