Paul Glissov’s volleyball career has many highlights, but there is no doubt last Saturday was one of his sweetest days in the game.
The 6ft 9in former Great Britain internationalist helped Edinburgh Jets win the first men’s Scottish League title of their 35-year history, at the expense of his former club, City of Edinburgh.
It is fair to say the title arrived ahead of schedule. Although Jets remain unbeaten in the league, at the Christmas break it was shaping up to be a winner-takes-all clash with Edinburgh on the final day of the league season. But defending champions Edinburgh lost two of their last three matches – fatally to Glasgow Mets last Saturday as Jets were beating Bon Accord – and it was all settled.
“One of the City of Edinburgh guys was at our match and told us that they had been beaten but obviously we didn’t know whether to believe him,” Glissov explains.
“So our player-coach Martyn Johnstone started calling some people and I think he found out earlier than the rest of the team that we had won the league.
“After the match, he called all the players into the dressing-room as he said he had something important to tell us.
“We suspected it was because City of Edinburgh had lost but he denied that was the case. He just wanted to get us all together and, once we were in the changing room, he told us we were champions. It was a great feeling.”
Jets now want to win their final two league matches to complete the campaign unbeaten but also have their eyes on more silverware.
They face City of Edinburgh in the Scottish Cup semi-finals in Glenrothes at the end of the month and there are also the Schelde Sports Scottish League Play-offs to come.
“I’ve been surprised how well we’ve done,” Glissov admits. “We’ve only really been able to get an hour-and-a-half training together every week as many of the guys can’t make two sessions as they are working or have other commitments.
“We’ve had injuries all season and sometimes we’ve only had six players at matches but we’ve managed to get through and we’ve done it as a team.
“I’m not worried about facing anyone now. The plan is to win everything that is left.”
In an ideal world, Glissov would still be playing full-time as part of the Great Britain set-up but UK Sport cut all support of the indoor teams after the London Olympics in 2012. To rub salt into the wound, they also withdrew funding for the beach programme for Rio 2016 after initially backing it. “The GB women’s team were the real ‘champions’ of the Olympics because they had their funding cut the year before and did all their own fundraising,” Glissov points out.
“They won a match, which the men didn’t manage to do, and the fact they didn’t even look into funding the women was terrible.
“There was all this talk about the Olympic legacy but then it was just a lot of bull as they cut everything. They have just cut the beach programme as well.
“They pulled the plug on so many team sports. It is easier for individual athletes to get medals because they only have themselves to look after.
“The funding we get for the team sports is over a squad of 24 players, so it is more difficult. Volleyball was such a big spectator sport at the Olympics, also the beach volleyball and yet they are not getting funded either.
“The next Olympics are in Rio and volleyball is so huge there and probably the best country in the world for the sport.”
Glissov played all over Europe in a bid to win a place in the GB team at London 2012 – spending time at SC Leixoes in Portugal, Tenerife Sur in Spain, TSV Geisen in Germany and Boldklubben Marienlyst in Denmark – but an untimely knee injury effectively ended his hope.
“It was an amazing experience playing in Europe and I loved every minute of it,” he said. “But it was just so hard on my body that I had to end up stopping, otherwise I would have kept going.”