John Gibson has always insisted his 17-year playing career in the Senior ranks was defined by the grounding he received during his 30 months at Blantyre Vics.

Gibson has forged a decent CV having turned out for the likes of Hamilton Accies, Alloa, Stirling Albion, Stenhousemuir and Morton.

But the one-time midfield starlet with St Ninians in Hillhouse fondly recalls putting pen to paper for then Vics boss Tommy Coggil.

Right away he found himself thrust into a Castle Park dressing room containing the seasoned likes of Benny Rooney, Tommy Langlands, Andy Galt and legendary front man John McGurk, scorer of the only goal of the game when Blantyre Vics overcame Baillieston at Ibrox in the 1982 Scottish Junior Cup Final.

A young Gibby excelled in that company to the extent of earning himself a signing offer from Accies boss John Lambie and he has never looked back since...

Until this week when Vics officials offered him a route back into the Juniors by appointing him as their new team manager following the shock departure of Murdie McKinnon .

Last season saw the 49-year-old operating as No.2 to Shotts Bon Accord gaffer Tam McDonald.

So it was no surprise that he was tipped to take over the Hannah Park reins when Rambo tendered his resignation just over a fortnight ago.

But it transpired that Bon Accord club officials had former player Kieron McGuiness at the top of their successor wishlist and a disappointed Gibby was edged aside.

Last night he said: "I enjoyed a great rapport with people at Shotts so it was a body blow not to be considered as the replacement for Tam and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

“Having been Tam’s No.2 for more years than I care to remember, I was keen to embrace the responsibilities of taking charge of my own team to put across my own ideas and felt my inside knowledge of the Shotts playing squad would stand me in good stead.

“It’s history now that deliberations did not come down in my favour, but I’ve been around the block in the Juniors long enough to know these things happen and I harbour no grudges whatsoever and truly wish big Kieron and his assistant manager Paul Finnigan best wishes for next season.”

Blantyre born and bred, Gibby resigned himself to taking up a watching brief at what fixtures remain in the 2015/16 campaign.

However, everything changed when a chance meeting with a Vics club official resulted in a telephone call inviting him to an interview at Castle Park last Monday night.

He said: "The Vics people gave me a more than decent airing and I came away happy that I had put my views on the Junior game across.

"But you could have knocked me down with a feather when a few hours later they called back to offer me the job.

“A return to my first Junior club after all these years was a dream opportunity I just couldn’t decline and my delight was threefold when Paul McAninch agreed to be No.2 along with Jack Steel taking up a goalkeeping coach brief.

“Getting a quality backroom team in place was always my first target though the real hard work starts for us now.”

It ‘s believed not many of the Blantyre Vics squad that finished the season as fifth best of the Super First Division pile will not be staying at the famous old Lanarkshire club and the seasoned Gibby is well aware of whispers reckoning Davie Green will be joining Kilbirnie Ladeside while brother Kevin Green , Chris Craig and Darren McLean are linked with moves elsewhere.

The new gaffer said: "It’s part and parcel of the Junior game for players to be speaking with other clubs at this stage of the season and I’m no shrinking violet in this respect.

“Right now I’m confident of attracting in a whole clutch of new faces, however I’ll still be doing my utmost to persuade as many Vics players as possible to stay on board and throw in their lot with me.

“Towards that aim, I hope to meet up with the likes of Craig Smith, Andy Sinclair, Craig Buchanan and our club skipper Terry Hewitt to outline my thinking as they would form a terrific backbone to my team plans.”

Going toe to toe tonight for a place in the Super Premier Division are Kilwinning Rangers and a Shettleston side that had looked out for the count when 0-2 down after just 30 minutes play in Wednesday night’s first leg dead until a Scott Anson goal before half-time inspired the Town to stage a rousing comeback and earn a 3-2 victory.

The bustling front man also netted the matchwinner and he fully expects to be closely marked by the Buffs defenders at Abbey Park.

He said: "Kilwinning roared out of the traps and caught us cold, which is not surprising given our long lay-off without a game but they didn’t put the game to bed and once we scored they were rocking.

“The first half finished too soon for us and we continued where we left off after the interval to equalise and then bag a winner thanks in no small part to an absolute peach of a cross ball from Craig Halliday.

“Sitting in the dressing room afterwards, I had to pinch myself before believing we had actually came out on top and I’m more than happy to be going to Kilwinning with a one goal lead.

”It’s going to be tough down there against a top quality side but what we did once can be done again with more of the same fighting spirit so nobody should write us off.

“It’s only natural for Kilwinning Rangers to be strongly fancied to turn us over but we’ll see.”

PLAYING TONIGHT (Kick-off 7.30pm): Super League Play-Off Second Leg.Kilwinning Rangers v Shettleston.

TOMORROW (Kick-off 2pm): Evening Times Champions Cup.Final. Renfrew v Auchinleck Talbot. (Newlandsfield)