Record appearance holder, goalscorer, East of Scotland League winner, double Lowland League winner and the man who scored the goal to secure an historic first-ever promotion to the SPFL. Dougie Gair has achieved everything in his 13 years as an Edinburgh City player and will rightly be viewed as a club legend.
The captain makes what is sure to be an emotional final bow in black and white on Saturday. City travel to Berwick Rangers, secure in the knowledge that their first season as a league club will be followed by a second.
After a stellar career with the Meadowbank club, Gair feels it’s the perfect time to hang up the (always traditional black) boots. “Last Saturday was quite emotional,” admitted the 31-year-old after making his last-ever home appearance. “The boys made a presentation to me before the game and the guard of honour was a nice touch from the club too. After the game as well, you get emotional at these things ... I’ve been there a long time, so with it coming to an end, it’s sad.
“If we hadn’t got promoted last year, I probably would’ve packed it in there and then. Given we went up and had the chance to play in League Two, go to different places and achieve new things, I decided to stay on. The fact that we’ve consolidated our place in this league means it’s probably a good time to go. I’ve proved that I’m capable of playing at this level; I’ve scored goals, and I’m going to finish our top goalscorer unless someone scores a hell of a lot on Saturday!”
It could have been very different, with Gair poised to leave the club before even making a first-team appearance. “I was playing for City 19s at the time and the then managers were moving on to Bonnyrigg Rose,” he explained. “That seemed the logical next step, but then in the second last game of the season I was called up to the senior side – no regrets at all after all that!
“I’ve not really had a serious opportunity to move on since. There have been one or two whispers but nothing really came about. The one season I was probably close to leaving was just before the Lowland League started. There were five or six teams interested, but City was always my team and I’ve a lot of friends here too, which helped. I’m a one-club man.”
Given the number of them since, Gair can be forgiven for not remembering his first game. “My first official game for the senior side I don’t,” he said. “I remember the first time I got called up from the 19s was down at Threave but I couldn’t tell you who my first game as a signed player was against.
“I remember my first goal. We played the first few games at City Park because Meadowbank was getting used for a concert or something. It was against Gala in the Qualifying Cup.”
And the best? “I scored one against East Kilbride in the Lowland League a couple of years ago,” he recalled. “It was one of the games East Kilbride never actually put the highlights of up, but it’s out there somewhere. It was about 35-40 yards out with the right peg and lobbed the goalie – I wouldn’t say it was planned, but it looked good!”
While last season’s promotion is the obvious one, Gair’s happy memories aren’t limited to recent years. “The season we won the East of Scotland League is probably the most I’ve enjoyed football,” he said. “That was back when I could actually go past players and cause a bit of devastation. It’s probably the best football I’ve ever played – me on the left, Danny Noon through the middle and [Jordan] Caddow on the right. I got about 17 goals that season, including the one that clinched the league.
“Last year is hard to beat though, scoring the goal to win the league again and then through the play-offs. It was a big moment.
“Brora the year before is the obvious low point. I’ve never seen a changing-room like that after a game of football; everybody was utterly devastated. That was hard, but it made us stronger and gave us the urge to go and do it last year.”
Not being involved will not only be a big adjustment for the long-serving No.8, but also for mum Leslie, a fixture at Meadowbank. “She’s currently on about six holidays a year so no doubt that will increase,” laughed Gair. “I’m sure she’ll still go but what they do about the away supporters’ bus I don’t know! She’s followed me right from the start, so it’s emotional for her too.”