Ashley Grimes can’t wait to go extra mile with Edinburgh City

Ashley Grimes
Ashley Grimes
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A bit of travelling is something semi-pro footballers have to accept as part of the game at that level.

New Edinburgh City striker Ashley Grimes, however, is going the extra mile and then some to make his switch to the Ladbrokes League Two outfit work.

Grimes is in line to make his competitive debut tonight for Edinburgh City as they host League Two rivals Berwick Rangers in their opening Betfred Cup Group F fixture at Ainslie Park.

The former Man City youngster will make a 400-mile plus round trip each week to train with and play for Gary Jardine’s team after penning a two-year deal last month.

It’s a sacrifice the 30-year-old is more than willing to make in order to hopefully start enjoying his football again, craving a fresh start after becoming disillusioned with the game south of the border.

“The appeal of coming up the road was that I wanted a completely new challenge,” Grimes told the Evening News. “We’ve come to an agreement that when the season begins properly, I’ll come up on a Thursday around lunchtime then back to family after the game on a Saturday evening. I can do all my fitness work back in Manchester at the start of the week and spend a good chunk of the week with my family.

“It’s a fresh break, and as I’d said to Gary, I haven’t really been enjoying my football back in England for the last 18 months or so. I had a couple of offers in England and I thought, ‘do I want to keep plodding and maybe not enjoy it again, or do I want a new experience in my life?’

“I was playing out of position and the league I was playing in was tough, week in, week out, in the sense that there isn’t a lot of football played. Sometimes you just get caught in a little bit of a rut and you need something fresh to make things better.

“Marc Laird is one of my best mates so I spoke to him quite a lot, spoke to my family and thought why not? Let’s got for it.”

City have benefited from connections between various players over the last year or. Captain Josh Walker was persuaded by ex-Watford team-mate Craig Beattie to sign and Grimes’ long association with Laird has helped Jardine land another player of pedigree.

“I did speak to Marc, but I did a bit of homework as well,” he explained. “Some of the players they have like Marc, Josh and Beats have played at a really good level and I thought it would be a good challenge, something different and it fits in with my life and my family and stuff. Hopefully I can achieve something.

“Marc and I go back a long way to since we were about 16. We had five years at Man City together and a few years at Millwall. We played against each other quite a bit since and spoke quite a lot on the phone so we’ve been pretty close over the last 15 years.

“I obviously know about Beats with the clubs he’s played for and career he’s had. I played against Josh as a kid when he was coming through at Middlesborough and I was at Man City. He’s an excellent footballer and I’m sure he’ll do well as captain this year.”

Grimes revealed he’s settled in well in the time he’s spent in the Capital. “When I signed, I came up on the Thursday lunch-time and had a few hours settling in to the flat then trained in the evening,” he said. “It was a good session – I enjoyed it. I’ve been doing some work on my own regarding fitness but I’ve not touched the ball for a good while so it was good to get back out there doing it.”

The former Southport man has been well briefed on City’s recent history-making feats and is targeting a successful season after last year’s survival. “I’ve heard all the story,” he confirmed. “Looking at the players, with hopefully a couple more to come in, there’s no reason why we can’t do well. We’ll keep specific targets to ourselves, but we’re ambitious.”

And what can City fans expect from Grimes himself? “As an attacking player, I’ll be trying to get on the ball to score and make goals.”