He has won league titles, Scottish Cups and scored for Scotland, but Craig Beattie rates helping Edinburgh City staying in League Two as one of the highlights of an impressive career.
With the three teams below them all losing, his opening goal was perfectly timed in more ways than one, coming right on the interval and setting City on their way to a 2-0 win over Annan Athletic.
Derek Riordan picked out Beattie’s run with a lobbed pass through, and he was composed in flicking it past Blair Currie and in off the post. Hibs-loanee Lewis Allan put safety firmly in City’s hands on the hour, taking a touch in the area then sending a crisp finish into the far corner of the goal.
Darren Ramsay was shown a stoppage-time red card for a shocking challenge on City’s Dougie Gair, and Chris McKee followed him down the tunnel for his reaction.
That failed to dampen the mood in the home dressing-room, however, as Cowdenbeath’s defeat, coupled with their own three points, ensured league new boys City of SPFL football for another season.
“It’s one of the biggest achievements of my career,” said a delighted Beattie. “After 11 games played we had four points. We were the laughing stock of Scotland. We’ve come into the league and everybody’s seen us as a guaranteed three points. Seventenn games before we got our first win and we’re now in the position of being mathematically safe with two games to spare. It’s absolutely unbelievable what we’ve done.
“These boys don’t get paid a lot of money, if anything. They’re here because they love the club, because they’ve been here, because there’s a team spirit. There’s a friends-and-family feel to it. They’re all for one another – you sense that when you walk in. I’m the only lad from the west coast and I’ve had to come and fit in and to be fair they’ve been brilliant with me. I just hope I’ve brought them a bit of experience and guidance in return.”
Beattie retains that desire to play and win, so is keen to stay on next season. “I’ll have a chat with the gaffer, and if he wants to go down a different route it might be time to bow out on a nice bit of success. I’m not priding myself on finishing third or fourth bottom of a league, but [in the] the magnitude of the achievement.
“I want to keep playing as long as I can. I’ve still got the fire and the hunger. There’s maybe times that you do question it when a result hasn’t gone your way. You’re driving home thinking ‘I’ve gone from playing in the San Siro’ and x,y,z, and something happens and I fly off the handle. There’s a reason for that, though – I’m trying to encourage people to learn. There was a wee moment after we lost the last-minute goal to Cowdenbeath that confirmed I’ve still got the fire, hunger and desire to play.”
For manager City Gary Jardine, relief was the main emotion at full-time. “I’m definitely relieved, but overjoyed at the same time,” he said. “It’s been a tough season, probably the hardest of my career. The Chairman said, we never lost faith. We’ve worked hard, it’s been a crazy league at times, but we stay up on merit – we’ve done fantastically.
“I’ve learned more in the last seven or eight months than in the seven or eight years I’ve done the job. I’d have to sit and think about it because I can’t quantify it. It’s been tough, but like the rest of the boys, I’ll be all the better for it.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Stobie, McKee, Porteous, Laird, Walker, Allan, Gair, Riordan, Beattie (Guthrie 71), Dunsmore.
Annan: Currie, Black, Swinglehurst, Krissian, Bronsky (Lucas 55), Skelton (Osadolor 88), Omar, Ramsay, Weatherson, Smith, Flanagan (McKenna 75).
Referee: Graham Beaton.