Goalkeeper Paul Grant believes he has his work cut out to claim a starting place for Livingston – but insists his task will be a breeze compared to a summer spent working as a labourer.
Grant, released by Hibs this summer following the club’s relegation to the Championship, was training with various teams in the hope of winning a deal. Unsure of what the future held, he earned some cash through labour work before former Hibs team-mate Brad Donaldson recommended him to Livi boss John McGlynn, who stepped in to offer a six-month deal.
Although thrilled to be afforded the chance of resurrecting his career in West Lothian and determined to push for the club’s No.1 spot, Grant is cautious about his immediate future.
“The deal is only six months because Kevin Walker is injured just now,” Grant said. “John McGlynn has been honest enough to say that if anything happens to DJ (Darren Jamieson) or he suffers a loss of form, then I will get my chance. I know how good a goalkeeper DJ is so it will be hard to find a place in the team but I will definitely be trying my hardest to do that. I played six months with Berwick on loan playing every week and it was probably the best six months of my career so far.
“I had trained with a couple of teams with the hope of trying to get a deal and then Livingston came in last minute. Brad Donaldson had spoken about me so I went in for a week and John asked me to sign. I’ve loved it so it’s just nice to be back in training again. I was doing labour work over the summer just because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen – there’s no comparison between the two.”
When Grant, an unused substitute in Hibs’ 2012 Scottish Cup final defeat by Hearts, was deemed surplus to requirements at the end of last season after six years at Easter Road, he didn’t envisage he’d be back there on the opening day of the following campaign.
The 21-year-old took up the unfamiliar position of viewing Saturday’s Championship curtain-raiser from the away dugout as Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley scored what proved to be the winner. Grant was left flabbergasted as Oxley’s punt from his own penalty box bounced over Jamieson and into the net. He said: “I don’t think anybody expected it. You don’t see goals happen like that very often. You can’t put much blame on DJ. We all knew it was a freak goal and their keeper could have kicked it another 100 times and it would never have gone in. Hopefully I’ll never be caught out like that
“I thought we were the better team in the second half. I think you could tell Hibs were concerned. Most people are thinking Hibs, Hearts and Rangers are going to run away with it, but I think the way we played shows we can go and compete.”
A self-confessed Hibs supporter, Grant enjoyed the swift return to his old stomping ground and the opportunity to catch up with a few familiar faces. “I didn’t know what to expect with the club being relegated and what not,” he explained. “It did come as a bit of a shock when the manager said they were going to release me – I had been there so long. Terry Butcher told me and then two or three days later he was told he wasn’t being kept on either. I thought they would have got a new manager in and then let him decide but it’s done now.
“It was strange at the weekend there – especially knowing so many of the boys in the Hibs team. I spoke to a few of them so that was nice.”