The Juniors Interview: Chris Wilson, Clydebank

In the first of a new series, GRAEME McGARRY meets a leading light from the west of Scotland junior football scene:

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Picture: Stevie Doogan
Picture: Stevie Doogan

Name: Chris Wilson

Age: 25

Club: Clydebank

Previous clubs: Knightswood Juveniles, Bathgate Thistle

Scotland caps: 3

 

So, where did it all begin?

I started at Knightswood Juveniles, that's my local amateur under-21 side and I really enjoyed my time there. I did well for a few years there, and about six months before the end of my last season, I don't know if my brother, Willie, who played with Bathgate at the time, maybe said to the manager to come and have a look at our team because we had a very successful side at the time.

Why did you choose Bathgate as your first junior side?

I had a few offers. I'd spoken to Stevie Rankin at Ashfield, and I spoke to Budgie [McGhee] at Clydebank where I play now, but at the time my brother was 38 or 39 years old, and something I always wanted to do was play at least one season in my brother's team. So Bathgate phoned me and I ended up signing a two-year deal with them.'

Was there extra pressure following in your brother's footsteps?

There was extra pressure, especially because I knew the junior game was tough with big, strong, physical men and I was only a 21-year-old young boy. I knew it was going to be a massive step up. I knew how well my brother had done there. He was a Scottish Cup winner and I knew it would be hard to live up to his name.

Were you surprised at how quickly you adapted to the junior game?

I was lucky in a sense that the manager at Bathgate, Graeme Love, told me from the very start the way he wanted me to play, and the style really suited me.He played a 4-4-2, but wanted me to play as a wing-back and attack a lot which is a part of my game I do well and really enjoy. He had faith straight away, and threw me right into the deep end and luckily enough I did well from the very start. It was good that Lovey had the confidence in me.

After signing for Bathgate ahead of Clydebank previously, what made you decide to make the move to Holm Park?

I did well at Bathgate, but I'd been there for a year and a half when my Mrs fell pregnant with our wee boy, so I had to move to a team a bit closer to home because I couldn't commit to the travelling. Graeme Love was brilliant with me. He said he didn't want to lose me, but understood my situation, so Budgie McGhee put a bid in and it was accepted. I managed to move back here in the January and my wee boy was born in the March, so the manager at Bathgate did me a real turn there.

It's been a season of ups and downs for Clydebank so far, but it started so well didn't it?

We had the League Cup section during pre-season and we seemed to be annihilating everything that was put in front of us.I think we played four games, and don't get me wrong, it was against lower league opposition, with two of the teams in the league just below us [Yoker and Ashfield], and Maryhill and Perthshire two leagues below us; but I think we scored 18 goals and conceded 3 in the full cup section.Everything was going well. We went into the quarters and beat Carluke 8-1, beat Petershill in the semis and quite comfortably beat Pollok in the final.

Why do you think results have been inconsistent since then?

As soon as we lifted that cup, we just went on a really bad run. We weren't playing badly, we just weren't getting the rub of the green, everything seemed to be going against us and we weren't picking up many points.Before we knew it we were third or fourth bottom, but we'd won three in a row before Auchinleck beat us on Saturday to pull us back up the table a bit. This isn't any disrespect to the other teams, but we haven't played a team this year where we've come off the park and said "hands up, we were beat by the better side". We've always thought we could have got something.

How is the season going from a personal perspective?

I've not really featured the last few weeks, we'd had a few bad results and I think the manager is just trying to freshen things up a bit. I can't really grumble because my form dipped a wee bit, so I brought it on myself.'

Were you honoured to be selected to represent Scotland?

Obviously you're proud to represent your club week in, week out; but the international scene is a different level. It's amazing. I got called up for a one-off friendly game over against the Republic of Ireland, and everything about it was just great. It was one of those that when you come back you would just love to be involved again.Luckily enough I managed to get into the squad again to go over to Limerick to represent Scotland in the Quadrangular tournament. It was some experience. It doesn't matter what level of football you play at, your main aim is to represent your country and I was privileged enough to do that.'

The experience must make you motivated to make the squad again?

I felt I gave a good account of myself, so I just hope that I can get back into the Clydebank team and play the way I know that I can so that next time the Scotland squad comes out then I'll maybe get a shout again. First and foremost I need to make sure I do well when I get my chance again at club level.

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