Craig McBride loved every minute of his American adventure but he is equally happy to be back playing on Scottish soil.
The 22-year-old is just back from a stint at Davenport University in Michigan where he combined his studies with playing for the University’s soccer team.
Upon his return, he signed on with Chris Anderson’s Vale in January and played in the matches against Selkirk and Gala Fairydean Rovers before the team’s enforced lay off. He is now raring to go for the remainder of the season and is looking to help the club climb the league table.
McBride said: “I loved the experience and wouldn’t change it for anything. I worked in a call centre before I left for America and I just wanted a change. So when the opportunity came about to move country and also continue playing football I couldn’t say no.
“We won the league and also came close to winning the national tournament twice, which the best schools in the US compete in. I really enjoyed my time there and made a lot of good friends from all over the world that I still speak to on a regular basis.
“It was a really fun lifestyle, we would have a couple of classes in the morning, and then train in the afternoon. And we trained every day, so the team became very close.”
After a baptism of fire in two tough Border derbies, including one against his hometown and ex-team Gala, the centre half has not been able to make any more competitive appearances for his new team as they have not played since January 7. He revealed that a lack of action has not hindered his integration into the squad.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at the Vale so far. Everyone – including players, staff and people behind the scenes, have been really welcoming and it’s easy to fit in.
“Obviously the couple of games I’ve played in, the results haven’t gone our way but I’m sure that the results will come.
“Ando has made a few signings and there’s a few players coming back from injury that will boost the squad. So I’m very positive going into the second half of the season.
“Although we haven’t had a lot of competitive game time lately, we have been training really well and we’ve had a few friendlies to keep us ticking over.
“I already feel quite settled. I also knew a few of the boys previously which helped of course. Our training sessions are naturally competitive and that’s really important. When we play a game in training nobody wants to lose.
“I think this will have a positive effect when we do play competitively and everyone will be ready to go despite the lack of games. I think with the type of squad we have the league isn’t really a fair reflection”, said McBride.