Former Hibs youngster Jordan Cropley is flourishing at Newtongrange Star as the Super League men make a push for the league title after an unbeaten start.
Cropley, pictured, son of Hibees legend Alex, never made an appearance for the Easter Road first team and was released in 2009 when John Hughes took over.
The midfielder, now 25, took time to get over the setback and revealed he had fallen out of love with the game for a period before getting back on track.
Cropley seems happier than ever at Star now alongside former Jambo Craig Thomson in the heart of the midfield, with the club sitting in second place in the East Region’s top tier after five wins and two draws from their opening league matches.
“It was a hard one to take but life goes on I suppose,” said Cropley, who had been named on the substitutes’ bench several times under former boss Mixu Paatelainen at Hibs.
“I never got the chance I expected at Hibs. I kind of fell out of love with football to be honest, my heart just wasn’t in it.
“I was at Berwick [Rangers] for a while but I didn’t enjoy it there so I took a few months out then went to juniors.
“I’m enjoying the game again, it’s a really good club to be at and I’m happy here.”
Cropley admits it’s a harsh reality that many youngsters at professional clubs face when they are cast aside after coming through the ranks – Cropley himself having been at Easter Road since he was 12.
He continued: “It’s all part and parcel of football – everyone expects to make it, but only one per cent or so, they say, actually make it. You are either mentally strong or not I suppose and some people will just fall away and probably never play football again, whereas others might end up playing at a higher level.”
The New Victoria Park men have racked up 16 goals so far in seven league games, while conceding just three.
Cropley is confident that Star can go into any game knowing they can outscore any opponent, while keeping things tight at the back.
He said: “We’ve got players who are capable of scoring goals in any game. We have a lot of good goalscorers here.
“But we’ve also got a good defence that will keep goals out – as long as we keep scoring we are confident that our defence won’t concede many or any.”
Nitten made an impressive start in last season’s top tier, competing at the top of the table for the majority of the campaign until their title bid tailed off towards the end as they finished fourth, 11 points behind champions Bo’ness United.
Cropley believes the side have learned lessons from last year however, and is hopeful they can sustain a title challenge until the end this time round.
He said: “I think we’ve learned we need to kill off teams better and take our chances better. We missed a lot of chances during the middle of last season when we went to tough grounds and didn’t play well.
“It is good that it happened to us to be honest; hopefully we can maintain our current form for as long as possible.”
Meanwhile, Tranent Juniors manager Hamish Colgan has left the South Division side by mutual consent after a mixed start to the season. The club are not seeking applications for the vacant post at this time.