CHRIS GRAY admits he couldn’t turn down the chance to join Linlithgow – even though it meant turning his back on his hometown team.
The defender was all set to be captain of South League side Tranent Juniors this season after joining them from his former club Haddington during the close-season.
However, without making a single appearance for his local club, he was lured away by the Super League outfit Linlithgow last week. It was a move the 30-year-old just couldn’t spurn given he is so hungry for silverware. He hopes to lift the Scottish Junior Cup with Rose, to add to the Super League title he won with Bonnyrigg three years ago.
“It was meant to happen a couple of weeks ago and then it got held up, so I was delighted for it to go through last week,” said Gray. “You can’t turn down a move to the Super League. It was hard because Tranent is my hometown club, but it was a no-brainer for me coming here.
“People were saying to me I was taking a step down going to Tranent and it was too early for me to step down. I still feel like I’ve got a good few more years left in me and I can still get better as well.
“I’ve won the Super League and I got to the semi-final of the Junior Cup with Bonnyrigg, but I’ve never won it and this is the team you want to be at if you want to win it. I want another Super League title and I want to win everything I can.”
Left-back Gray admitted he got a hard time from the Bonnyrigg fans in his second game for his new club. He said: “A lot of these fans probably had something to say about me when I left, so it was good to silence them with a win as I was getting a few pelters in the corner.”
Referee Colin Whyte had a tricky afternoon, with no linesman appointed for the match as the pool of assistant referees was stretched by the staging of several Scottish Cup preliminary ties.
The visitors took the lead with their first chance of the match after 14 minutes when Andy Shirra found team-mate Blair Batchellor and the former Camelon man took one touch before firing an unstoppable dipping 25-yard strike past home keeper Billy Bauld.
Bonnyrigg should have levelled just two minutes later when Kieran McGachie was set up by Lewis Turner from four yards out, but the striker shot straight against the legs of keeper Ally Adams.
Linlithgow had a penalty claim waved away on 28 minutes after Ruari MacLennan – straight through on goal – fell under the challenge of former Linlithgow player Adam Nelson as he was about to pull the trigger.
Bonnyrigg began the second half on the front foot and almost levelled when Dean Hoskins’ header from Turner’s corner went just over the bar. Shirra looked set to make it two on 60 minutes but Bauld kept it out with a point-blank stop. He was helpless, however, when his defence failed to clear just a minute later and striker Tommy Coyne netted from close range.
Bonnyrigg had McGachie sent off on 70 minutes when he was given a second booking after referee Whyte deemed him to have dived in the box. His manager, Robbie Horn, soon followed him in what was a frustrating afternoon for the red Rose.
Horn felt there was little between the two teams and believed his side were in control for much of the afternoon
He said: “I didn’t think there was anything in the game. For the first 15-20 minutes Linlithgow were the better team, but then after that we settled down and I thought we started to take control of the game.”
Bonnyrigg Rose: Bauld, Archibald, Hoskins, Stewart, Moyes, Horne (McKenna), Gray (Whitson), Kidd (McLeod), Turner, Nelson, McGachie.
Linlithgow Rose: Adams, Tyrell, Gray, Hamill, McKenzie, Leiper, Batchellor, Shirra, Weir (Kelbie), Coyne, MacLennan.