One thing is for certain in today’s Borders derby between Gala Fairydean Rovers and Vale of Leithen – Craig McBride will know his way to the ground.
The towering centre half grew up in Galashiels and joined Gala Fairydean, before the amalgamation with Gala Rovers, when he was a teenager.
He has fond memories of playing for his hometown club, but he is a Vale player now and his concentration is firmly on making sure the Netherdale faithful are not a happy bunch by 5pm this afternoon.
Invited to go down memory lane, he waxed lyrical about his former club, but he is determined to use the match against them as a springboard for Vale’s season.
He said: “Borders derbies are always good games and they seem to draw bigger crowds too, so I think if we managed to take all three points it would be massive for the boys and I’m sure we would get some momentum going off the back of it.
“I really enjoyed my time at Gala and played for them for a long time. When I first signed I was 16 and Gala were in the East of Scotland League and I was there for the whole transition to the Lowland League.
“It was a fun time and I really enjoyed my football. I still know plenty of the team and talk to them regularly as well as plenty of the staff who no doubt I’ll see on match day.
“The club itself is very friendly and welcoming and they’re no different with me even though I’m with the Vale now.”
Clearly McBride knows more than most about what to expect from today’s opponents, although he admits that even for him they are a difficult side to work out. He knows that Vale have their work cut out for them but takes encouragement from the last two performances, despite defeats against Whitehill Welfare and Selkirk.
“Gala, even when I played for them, have always been a slightly unpredictable team”, he added.
“Their league position probably doesn’t reflect what they are capable of as they have some very good players. I am certainly expecting a tough game but I think if we play as well as we have in our last couple of games we have a chance of taking all three points.”
Last season’s final league position was a bit of a disappointment at Victoria Park, with a feeling that a slightly higher placing could have been achieved. So far this time out that feeling has been exacerbated, with only two league wins leaving Vale in second bottom above only pointless Hawick.
However, McBride feels that the league position is false with some mitigating factors contributing to it. Encouraging performances of late haven’t been matched by results and Chris Anderson has had to deal with a crippling injury and unavailability list in pretty much every match.
McBride added: “I think anyone who has watched our last two or three games knows there has been a major improvement in our performances.
“We were unlucky not to beat Whitehill and arguably should’ve beat Selkirk as well. A couple of silly mistakes and a couple of missed chances have hurt us over the last few weeks but I think if we can rectify that we’ll be fine.
“One of our main issues this season has been inconsistency in the squad. We’ve played a different starting 11 almost every week which obviously doesn’t help.
“Now that we have players returning from injury and holidays etc we should be able to get a bit more regularity into the squad and this will only help us.”