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What A Two Month Turnaround For Neil

On 6 May 2005, Killie striker Craig Dargo and nineteen year-old defender Neil McGregor were told they were no longer part of Killie manager Jim Jeffries’ plans.

“I don’t hold any grudges, but it just left me empty inside,” explained Neil recently. “I was devastated and did not have a fall-back as you never think it is going to happen to you.”

“I was a Kilmarnock fan and had been with them since I was fourteen, so it was a really bad time. I thought of going to college and had started applying for call-centre jobs.

Fortunately for Neil, in stepped former Rugby Park coach Ian Durrant, who strongly recommended young McGregor to Clyde boss Graham Roberts. A few weeks down the line and Neil has been given a new lease of life by being part of the Roberts revolution. “They are all young boys and I’m enjoying being part of it so much,” stated Neil.

That enjoyment hit a high point on Saturday. “It is a great feeling to score against Manchester United,” he said after grabbing Clyde’s only goal in the hugely successful pre-season friendly with the Old Trafford giants. “It gives me bragging rights in the dressing-room for life!”

Neil felt his new team-mates showed up well against the superstars of Manchester United, despite the eventual scoreline. “We were up against guys like Rio Ferdinand, Louis Saha, Darren Fletcher and Kleberson yet were only one behind by half-time, but then they sent on Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ryan Giggs, so no wonder we tired!”.

As well as the memory of scoring a goal against Manchester United, Neil left Broadwood on Saturday afternoon, on the eve of his twentieth birthday, with a more tangible reminder of the day. “Van Nistelrooy is some player and I just had to get his shirt at the end.”

It’s quite a turnaround in the football fortunes of Neil McGregor, who is now looking forward to the new season with some confidence. His new manager may be avoiding publicly voicing any ambitions other than “to entertain”, but his young central defender let the cat out of the bag: “The manager wants promotion and, if we can believe in ourselves, it is a real possibility,” Neil added.

It certainly wouldn’t be promotion at all costs, on or off the park. “I would rather see my team lose trying to win, than win playing not to lose,” opined Clyde fan Stan Mallinson in Saturday’s match day programme. Stan must be pleased with the evidence so far as Graham Roberts’ team plays with a style dedicated to winning every game. Loyal Clyde fans like Stan recognise there is a limit to the number of times people will watch the “one goal lead then shut up shop” approach.

Stan’s not alone. On 21 October 1974 a newly appointed manager outlined his footballing philosophy: “Supporters are not interested in teams which are going to defend. They want to see exciting football.” The speaker thirty one year ago was Alex Ferguson and he seems to have been quite successful.

Clyde now has a team of young men like Neil McGregor with something to prove. Once again it’s going to be great fun monitoring the accuracy of the experts’ pre-season predictions!

One thing which can be predicted is that a Clyde fan will be keen to be Neil’s website sponsor for just £15 including VAT. To be the first, please e-mail bob.mcpherson@btopenworld.com for further information.