Briefly outline your football career prior to joining Deveronvale?
I was one of the lucky ones. Lucky in that I had the great fortune to begin my love affair with football on the hallowed, luscious, perfectly flat and not in anyway littered by the local dog population, playing fields at Myrus in Macduff. Even to this day I find myself simply reflecting…….. Following the ‘jumpers for goalposts’ years (I’ve checked and that is an officially recognized time period), I played throughout high school and for a young Deveronvale team managed at the time by Walter Robertson and Alistair Ramsay. Darren ‘it’s a tattoo of a cartoon tazmanian devil’ McAllister and Bryan ‘Dougal’ Dlugonski were also part of this side. I remember Daz went to the ‘big’ Vale team when he was still at the school (cue the swooning from the high school girls). He used to ask me to come along but at first I refused. I refused for my destiny at the time lay else where, across the fence at Canal Park. I did hope to play for the mighty Vale one day but I knew I needed to toughen up. Where better to do that then in the juniors with Deveronside. I spent a year there being chased by hairy men with actual beards who helped tremendously in extending my vocabulary. After that the path was clear, all that remained was to stop shaving and hop over the fence to Princess Royal Park.
Which year(s) did you play for Deveronvale? Who signed you for the club, and what attracted you to join ?
After some deep thought and a wee check on the website, I precisely remember signing for the Vale in the summer of 2000. Gregg Carrol was responsible for bringing me to the club under the illusion that I was ‘good in the air’. I believe it was the spring heeled midfielder Mark Chisholm who once said, ‘Wow Matt, without doubt, you are the worst player at heading a ball that my eyes or anyone else’s eyes for that matter have ever seen’. Praise indeed from the now captain of the team. I watched the Vale as a young lad, when I say watched I mean I sometimes heard the whistle from the match as the big game was really going down at the side of the wooden stand. As result, I wanted to play on the proper pitch from a young age. Once there, I played happily for three years.
What are your fondest memories of your time with the club?
Before each game in my first season, Daz and Paul Stewart would give me a wee insight into what expect at each ground, most notably at Fraserburgh. As long as I looked behind me whilst taking a throw in, then I wouldn’t get stabbed. Invaluable advice from my trustworthy team mates. Obviously the day we won the league at Keith was a particularly happy memory but there were many good times. I especially enjoyed seeing my name pulled out of a hat at Wick as the chosen one to drive the Aberdeen lads back to the city from Fochabers. Man, it was like a dream come true! 400 hours on a bus on a Saturday night with only a freshly squeezed orange juice for company.
What is the most memorable game(s) you played in for Vale, and why?
The game against Partick Thistle was quite special because they were proper football players who actually played football for a living and we held them to a 0-0 draw for 45 minutes. As for a night out in Glasgow……I rarely return there. It’s like taking throw ins at Fraserburgh all over again.
Who were the characters at the club ?
Everyone at the club during my time were special in their own little way but I think for me the loyal supporters of the team made my experience with the Vale a very worthwhile one. Genuinely nice people who even to this day when I return home are only too happy to have a wee chat. It sure is nice to go back home
Who were the best players you played with at the Vale and why?
My fellow defenders were, in my opinion, the best in the league. Nige and Hendo were tremendous players and both were unbelievably consistent. Dippy was just Dippy, well at least until his mother appeared at the Castle once and called him Steven. Didn’t know he had a first name. Nige and Hendo were especially helpful to me throughout my time at the Vale. They talked me through every step of every game which was helpful as for some reason unknown to myself I had a reputation for being ‘wired to the moon’. Dippy took the helping me out thing very seriously, so much so that he continued his lessons often into the early hours of Sunday morning when I couldn’t even understand his preachings. We went to New York in our kilts one year. Awesome. Apart from the boys at the back, when I heard Daz’s name in the team sheet I cracked a smile. I think out of any player he arguably gave the most effort which was much appreciated seeing that he played in front of me. Chizzo was another. Never before has a human being jumped so high that a group of daredevil frogs looked on in awe of his prowess. I was lucky to play in a side with a lot of talented players and it was indeed both a pleasure and a privilege.
And who were the best players you played against, and why?
‘Sure I’ll take care of Eddie Annand’. He scored the quickest hat trick in footballing history. That’s when Ayr United were a super power in world football. Over time things change but the emotional scars and the recurring nightmares never leave.
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale?
Wonder what might have been……………….and I do still enjoy a weekly kick about in our fine capital city.
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days ?
As my body is a temple, I begin the weekends with four raw eggs and a rigorous work out in my pants in front of the mirror. Before I realise the time, its Sunday already. On any other Saturday I like to go for a run, eat bananas and spend some quality time with my girlfriend who I’m glad to say decided to live in Edinburgh with me. Good times.