The start to his Bo’ness United career was a far cry from how he had planned it, but striker Calum Smith is back in amongst the goals with his sights firmly set on securing silverware.
Smith was left crocked just weeks after joining from Kelty Hearts in the summer after picking up a knee injury in the club’s last pre-season friendly against Bathgate Thistle before the new campaign. The forward went on to play through the pain barrier in the BUs’ first two Super League fixtures, not realising the extent of his injury – a torn meniscus and damage to his medial ligament which would later require surgery, leaving Smith sidelined for almost seven months.
It was only after a trip to his former Dunfermline Athletic physio, Gordon McEwan, that Smith knew something wasn’t right. “I played the first two games of the season against Musselburgh and Hill of Beath with the injury,” said Smith.
“I felt as if there was something wrong, but you know what it’s like when you’re at a brand new club and you want to make an impact. I probably didn’t do myself any favours – the fans must’ve thought ‘what have we signed?’
“I went to my old Dunfermline physio before I had even had my scan and he could tell it was torn. He put my hand on my knee and I could tell by the muscle movement that it was torn. So I was actually playing with a torn meniscus, when you think about it it’s quite ludicrous.”
The 28-year-old went under the knife in November and until his return last month, was forced to watch on from the sidelines. It’s only thanks to an intense recovery programme and working with McEwan that he is back playing so quickly.
Smith continued: “It was torture for me being out for so long after just signing, it was hard going. My knee is feeling great now, it’s the first time it’s felt fine since I’ve been back – I’ve got absolutely no pain at all.
“Gordon helped me wonders, because if it wasn’t for him pushing me, you can kind of get in a mindset that you just think it will get back to how it was before the op. I definitely think working with him has sped up my recovery.
“Bo’ness were absolutely brilliant too, I couldn’t ask any more from them – they massively impressed me. You realise how good clubs actually are during times like this and to be fair to Allan [McGonigal, manager] Pitts [Steve Pittman, assistant manager] and the committee, they’ve been pretty damn good with me.”
Smith netted a brace in his second game back after coming off the bench in a 5-1 home win over Jeanfield Swifts three weeks ago. It was a reward for his determination to get himself back to fitness. He then went on to score against Fauldhouse United a week later, before he was back in the starting XI against Broughty Athletic last weekend.
Bo’ness sit second in the Super League ahead of the visit of Broxburn Athletic to Newtown Park tomorrow, but it would take an almighty collapse from league leaders Kelty for them to have a chance of lifting the title.
Tam Courts’ men hold a lead of 20 points over the BUs, although McGonigal’s side do have three games in hand. Reigning champions Bonnyrigg Rose look the only side realistically capable of catching the Fife club.
Former Linlithgow Rose striker Smith believes Bo’ness still have everything to play for, however, and reckons they are hitting form at just the right time.
He added: “We’re still in two cups and we can still win a lot this season. Although it’s maybe been poor league form, there’s going to be loads of twists and turns yet. We’ve still got to go to Kelty and never say never.
“The last three weeks we’ve been pretty good with the amount of goals we’ve scored and defensively we look stronger. We’ve definitely picked up recently and really got the momentum going. It’s a good time for us to be coming into a bit of form.
“My aim is to get as many goals as I can now. I’ve got three so far and I don’t want a season under 15, so I’ll have to get the finger out.”