Ray Grant caught up with the official website as he puts a difficult 2023 behind him and looks ahead to a more promising 2024 for himself and the club. The midfielder picked up an ACL injury against Queen of the South on Hogmanay 2022, and only made his return to action last month:-
“It’s been a full year since my injury and it’s been a very tough 12 months, but I do feel very lucky and fortunate in a way as I’ve got so many good people around me who have given me guidance and kept me motivated. My parents and my brother have rallied around me and my teammates and staff have been there to help too. I also want to give my thanks to physio Alex MacQueen and Dr Ian McGuinness who have worked with me outside the club and helped me tremendously to get back playing again. I think it’s a little bit harder as well to juggle a long term injury when you’re part-time and you spend so many hours on your own, so there have been a lot of difficult moments but they are in the past now and I’m glad to be back on the pitch. I’m still building up and it’s been great to be involved again, and hopefully I can get a starting place back soon”
Grant also commented on the frustration of watching the club’s slide down to the bottom of League 2:-
“It’s a bad feeling watching from the stands and looking in from the outside knowing you can’t help especially with the run of form and struggles on the park we’ve had in the last year. It is a fantastic group of boys who give everything when they play and train as we did last season, but ultimately we’ve just not been good enough in 2023. We had a change over in the summer but weren’t able to hit the ground running at all, and it’s just tough to watch. I was disappointed it didn’t work out for Brian McLean, he was a great figure in the dressing room, and as a captain and a teammate he ensured I didn’t lose my way within the club and always made me feel welcome. He was the first person to contact me when I made my comeback so I’d also like to give my thanks to him for all he’s done for me.”
The 27-year-old also spoke about the impact Ian McCall has made so far, and his plans for what will be a busy January:-
“The new manager has been very successful in his long career and did a very good job at Partick Thistle. I remember thinking at the time when he left Firhill it seemed like a harsh decision but Clyde have benefitted and we are now very fortunate to get someone of his calibre in; it’s a real statement of intent from the club. He doesn’t owe us any favours and we need to prove to him we deserve to be at the club. To be honest I don’t think any of us have properly done that yet, we’ve not performed as I know we can and haven’t given him any reason to keep us, but we know we simply must improve in the second half of the season. No-one wants to be in the position we are in, we want to get the club back up the table and show we deserve a future here.
“We’ve already seen three new players come in so we know the gaffer is looking to improve all areas of the team. I obviously know Craig Howie well and played with him at Clyde before, he’s a fantastic guy and a great player too. He’s proven he can cut it in the league above with Alloa and I’m really looking forward to playing with him again. If he can perform as well as he did in his first spell then it’ll be a great signing for the club.”
Grant also spoke about how big a role his family play in his career, and his delight about playing alongside his brother Peter:-
“It was a lovely feeling to play professional football beside your brother and we’re really glad to have been given that opportunity. Peter has been great to lean on; he’s had two knee operations and a bad achilles injury but is still playing and a lot of people forget that. He’s an inspiration for me too, I feel hard done by missing so much time with my injury then I just remember he’s had to do it three times. But it shows if you have the right attitude you can come back from it, and that’s testament to the character he has. I’m looking forward to playing with him again hopefully many more times and it’s something we’ll look back on in years to come. It makes our household happier too with only one game for my parents to watch. My mum just looks at 5pm to see we’ve both got through the game safely, but she’s excited to see me fit again! She sees me through my best and worst moments first hand as does my dad, and it’s good to see them with a smile on their face.
Ray initially joined the club in January 2018 at a time when they were at the bottom end of the League 2 table, before quickly going on to better times, culminating in the playoff win the following year:-
“I guess you can draw parallels with the situation when I first arrived at the club six years ago; Danny Lennon had just come in and we were doing poorly in the league and near the bottom of the table. The squad changed in January and we did really well in the second half of the season, and just missed out on the playoffs on the last day. So it shows it is possible to turn your season around starting at this point of the campaign, the new players coming in will aid that and we just need to have believe in ourselves too. As soon as we got that first win under Danny we went on a good run of consecutive victories and we need to get that sort of momentum going again, starting from today.
“It was a magnificent feeling to win the playoffs. We went on a great run that season then got the points deduction which knocked us a bit but we took the title race all the way. We lost the first leg at Annan but we knew what we had in our squad and you can never count us out; we scored an unreal amount of late goals that season to take points. The spirit in the squad was terrific and everyone was chipping in; big Kevin Nicoll was setting the standards but we had lots of leaders in the team and we all took responsibility for our performances. Everyone was at their peak and a massive credit goes to Danny for giving us that season; he’s also someone I have a great amount of respect for and still keep in contact with. We knew the second leg was going to be tough but we were confident in our ability to turn it around. Martin McNiff at left-back had a habit of popping up with late important goals and he did it again with his 12th of the season. I thought we had battered them then we got a chance right at the end, so it came a bit later than we wanted and it wasn’t ideal when your talisman goes off but we showed our spirit again and Ally Love wasn’t going to make any mistake!”
Ray concluded with a message to The Bully Wee faithful for 2024:-
“I know how tough the last year as been for the supporters and there’s nothing more I want this year than to make that better for everyone. The fans are so important, this is your club and you’ll all be here long after the current players are gone, but we will do all we can to turn things around and leave Clyde in a better position than we found it. I can totally understand all the frustration but please just stick with us and keep supporting, it makes a massive difference to the players on the park and I’m sure we can get through these tough times together and get the good times back again.”