Keeper Kevin seeks promised land at Rutherglen Glencairn

Kevin Bell is determined to make up for lost time as he looks to resurrect his playing career at Rutherglen Glencairn.

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Kevin Bell wants to make an impression with Rutherglen Glencairn
Kevin Bell wants to make an impression with Rutherglen Glencairn

The remote outpost of Maybole will provide the backdrop on Saturday when the former Rob Roy and Clydebank goalkeeper plays his first competitive match in over a year.

That occurred while turning out for previous club Renfrew in a 4-3 defeat away to Hurlford, with Bell then turning his back on the game and opting for a period of self-exile which only ended last month when he signed for the Super First promotion challengers.

Some doubters remain unconvinced of his "born-again" status, however the 31-year-old shotstopper is vowing to prove them all wrong.

He said: "People might view me as a bad egg, but my only crime, so to speak, was in accepting I made a mistake in joining Renfrew.

"I'd moved there out of a sense of loyalty to workmates Colin Clark and Jimmy Quigley, but I quickly realised I didn't want to be there despite having no axe to grind with anyone at the club.

"Clarky, Quigg and Martin Ferry treated me well and the dressing- room camaraderie was great, but I couldn't settle for wanting to play at a higher level, even though no Super Premier club had expressed an interest.

"Performing abysmally in that Hurlford game was the last straw and I walked away, sparking Renfrew into slapping a hefty transfer fee on me which, in turn, put off any would-be buyers."

Bell resurfaced last close season when he made an impression with top-flight outfit Ashfield in pre-season friendlies. However, Renfrew's price tag killed any hopes of a move to Saracen Park.

He added: "It was a bit of a sickener because I had enjoyed working out under the Ashfield goalkeeping coach Billy Kerr, and I liked what Stevie Rankin and Murdie McKinnon had to say about how I fitted into their plans.

"But their best offer fell short of Renfrew's asking price and I was respectful of the quandary Stevie found himself in and fully understood why he then fixed up Stevie Hall, who has gone on to show himself to be a terrific young goalkeeper.

"I still had a yearning to get back playing, so I continued to train and keep my eye in when, out of the blue, Glens boss Willie Harvey called to say he had agreed terms with Renfrew and wanted to speak with me.

"I didn't need much persuasion, and the fact Willie's squad includes former Rob Roy team-mates Dean Muir and Andy Ward was an added bonus as they helped me settle in.

"Though only here a matter of weeks, I'm getting good vibes about the team and feel we are well-equipped for stepping up a division given we can call on guys who have played all their careers at the very top level like Andy McLay and Stevie Aitchison as well as an great striker in Dennis McLaughlin.

"It's a huge ask especially since Largs, Hurlford and Glasgow Perthshire are emerging as challengers, and I wouldn't rule out Kilbirnie, who have too many good players to be at the wrong end of the table for much longer."

Bell is relishing an early chance to impress after regular Glens No.1 Kevin Montgomery declared himself unavailable for the trip to Maybole.

He said: "I've had to bide my time with Kevin playing out of his skin, but the gloves are mine on Saturday and I am hoping to keep them."

Among other Super First encounters looking close to call are the clash of table-toppers Hurlford and Yoker, while Kilbirnie cannot afford to slip up when hosting the Shire.

Largs will look to rack up a first victory in four outings when Thorniewood visit Barrfields, and an improving Renfrew face a tough test in taking on second-top Kello at Western Park.

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