Derek Riordan: Edinburgh City have saved me from '˜boring' Soccer Saturdays
He will forever be associated with their near neighbours just up Lochend Road, but at Edinburgh City, Derek Riordan is once more linking up with old faces that even pre-date the association with his beloved Hibees.
The third-top goalscorer in SPFL history has joined the League Two club until the end of the season, with the task of helping Gary Jardine’s team start scoring enough goals to ensure this season hasn’t merely been a temporary secondment from the Lowland League.
Now 34, few are realistically expecting to see the same player that scored 93 goals across two spells at Easter Road. His experience, technique and instinct for finding the net, however, could just be the extra boost City need to stay up, having netted just 23 times this campaign.
At the other end of the pitch, things are looking far happier, partly thanks to someone Riordan has known since kickabouts at Craigroyston High School in Muirhouse.
“I knew a fair few of the boys before joining,” Riordan explained following City’s hugely important 2-1 win at bottom club Cowdenbeath in which he was an unused sub. “Some of the players are from my neck of the woods and were at school with me, so that’s a bit strange. Joe Mbu (pictured below) was at school with me and Jordan Caddow’s granny used to live in the house right underneath me. Joe was actually a wee cheat when we were at school – he was too fast! He was rapid back in the day ... he’s not quite got that pace any more. Everybody used to say ‘Joe Mbu’s in our team’ and you knew you wouldn’t have much of a chance against them!
“It’s just good to be back, it’s been so long since I’ve played a game. I just got fed up sitting about, waiting for something. I’ve been sitting on so many Saturdays, sitting in the house watching Soccer Saturday – bored, basically.
“I had the chance to go abroad and a few other options, but Edinburgh is local and perfect for me. It’s a chance for me to come in, help out and take chances in front of goal. They just didn’t need me on Tuesday!
“That local part of it was important to me. I’ve got three kids now and you don’t want to move your family about, so this is good solution.”
The three-time Scotland cap joins a squad that has steadily added players of real pedigree to the strong nucleus of mainly home-grown club stalwarts that won them promotion. “There are a few players in there with experience, like myself, Beats [Craig Beattie], Josh Walker and Marc Laird, so we can be the older heads in there. We’ve all played at a pretty high level,” said Riordan.
It’s not just the older heads he can relate to, though. Ryan Porteous, Aaron Dunsmore and Lewis Allan are all in the same situation the striker found himself in around 15 years ago – trying to forge a professional career with Hibs. Playing regularly at City, he believes, can help them achieve it.
“The three lads were in at Hibs when I was training with them under Stubbsy,” he recalled. “They are good young prospects. Ryan Porteous looks a brilliant prospect for a centre-half and wee Lew went in for quite a serious operation when I was there. But they just need to work hard. I’ve been there myself, I came on loan to Cowdenbeath when I was 18 and it’s great. You get to play proper football rather than your under-18s stuff and I’ll be happy to help them out.”
As for Riordan’s own future, it’s a case of waiting to see what comes up. “I feel like I’ve got another couple of seasons in me,” he said. “For one reason or another, I just haven’t had the chance to get in anywhere in Scotland, but this is a big chance to come in here. It’s a chance to get fit and it puts me back in the window for next season.
“I never put much weight on, so it’ll take me a couple of weeks to get up to fitness. It’s more about the sharpness really. It was freezing on Tuesday – I was running out of ideas of how to stretch! But once I get out there and start playing games I’ll be fine.
“I’ll look at my options at the end of the season. I’m enjoying it here and there are ten games left, so we’ll see how that pans out and I’ll give it my best.”