Glove story has happy ending as McNeil laps up new life at Pollok

Stevie McNeil took a huge leap of faith when swapping one Glasgow dressing room for another last summer.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
Goalkeeper Stevie McNeil has sets his sights on an Emirates Junior Cup payout after his gamble on a move from Petershill to Pollok paid off. Picture: Mark Mainz
Goalkeeper Stevie McNeil has sets his sights on an Emirates Junior Cup payout after his gamble on a move from Petershill to Pollok paid off. Picture: Mark Mainz

The goalkeeper left Super Premier runners-up Petershill to join a Pollok team that had only just secured top flight survival through a play-off victory over Renfrew.

It would be putting it mildly to say a few eyebrows were raised but six months down the line and the one-time Harmony Row starlet has no doubts he made the right decision.

McNeil is even harbouring hopes his move southside could yet result in Emirates Junior Cup glory this season.

Beith stand in the way of Pollok clinching a last-16 place when they come through to Glasgow for one of Saturday's top-rated fourth round clashes.

Yet, by his own admission, it has not all been plain sailing for Stevie because like many predecessors he initially found it a heavy burden to stand between the Newlandsfield sticks.

And neither did it help for comparisons to be made between him and previous glove-wearer Scott Morrison (currently at Arbroath) whose popularity among the Lok- supporting legions saw him honoured as Player of the Year for the previous two seasons.

However, Stevie's shot- stopping displays have slowly but surely won his terracing critics over and the 25-year- old is now so happy with his lot that he is poised to sign a contract extension and commit his future to Pollok.

"I did have a bit of a shaky start on coming here, but in many respects that was only to be expected given our entire defence were all new to each other and it took time for us to gel together into a unit," he said.

"Mistakes were made, myself included, during this adjustment process and I heard a few dissenting voices from supporters, but they just made me more determined to knuckle down and work at building understanding with the guys in front of me.

"For instance I soon came to realise Steff Reilly is the type of centre-back who would throw his body in front of a bus if it was heading towards our goal so I don't get in his way if balls are played into our penalty box.

"Yet the opposite is true with the likes of Ross Dunlop who is happy for me to come and take command.

"The upshot now is I'm a lot more contented for knowing how our defence is likely to react in given situations so hopefully the days of verbal fall-outs and communication mix-ups are a thing of the past.

"It's been a steep learning curve over the past six months but a very enjoyable one at that. I'm hoping to stay here long-term because you don't get many better arenas to play in than Newlandsfield where the atmosphere on matchdays is second to none.

"It has been night and day for me coming from Petershill, who boast a loyal but predominantly small core of supporters, to a club like Pollok whose fan base is undoubtedly one of the biggest in Junior football.

"Their support can be worth a goal of a start to us in big games and we as players appreciate them giving up their Saturday to back the team in rain, hail or snow so we try to send them home with smiles on their faces."

The super confident No.1 reckons Pollok could well figure in the Emirates Cup latter stages if they can get past the hurdle of top-flight rivals Beith on Saturday.

He said: "I played under the gaffer John Richardson when Rob Roy reached the last eight only to suffer a shock defeat by Dalry Thistle in 2011 and his tactical know-how was instrumental in that cup run.

"I might have still been there, but John quitting the club towards the end of the season led to a number of players, myself included, following him out the door."

He went on: "Our paths initially went separate ways after I signed for Petershill, however I was only too willing to jump ship and join him at Pollok when he made an approach during the close season.

"I know Beith are regarded as something of a bogey team given Pollok haven't beaten them in recent years, but I would put great store in John having something up his sleeve to help put that particular record to the sword."

The continuing big freeze is raising doubts as to whether Newlandsfield will be deemed playable for the weekend visit of the Ayrshire side.

Already Lok boss Richardson has moved to keep match fitness levels ticking over by arranging a friendly next Monday night against Carluke Rovers on their John Cummings Stadium 4G pitch (kick-off 8.15pm).

Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

113410

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

The sight of wee dolphins choking to death on discarded supermarket bags helped me change me use reusable shoppers

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat Cubie’s job is to find and share with you the fabulous things the city has to offer, from gigs to gastro.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You Couldn't Make This Up

The secret world of the wheelie bin.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Columnist Michelle McManus is Sussed in the City, and loves to chat about anything and everything.