Edinburgh City’s Gareth Rodger is in line to make only his third appearance alongside his new team-mates against Stirling Albion tomorrow, but will see two more familiar faces in the home dugout at Forthbank.
Dave MacKay and Frazer Wright were the senior pros in Rodger’s position when he was beginning his career as a youth player at St Johnstone.
Having seen them operating both on and off the pitch, Rodger isn’t surprised to see the pair succeeding, as City prepare to visit the team at the top of Ladbrokes League Two.
“I think I cleaned his boots a few times,” he said of MacKay. “I know a few of the guys up there and obviously Frazer Wright is the assistant. I’ve trained with those guys and I was around the first team for a while so I know them very well. By the sounds of it they’ve got a good side going there so I imagine they’ll be very strong.
“When we were training with the under-20s at St Johnstone, Dave would sometimes come in and take our sessions. I used to love it; it was only a few times but he was really good with the boys and you could see that he was going to go into coaching and management. His understanding of the game was always good.
“We didn’t have Frazer in coaching as much, but I know when he went to Dumbarton he was taking one of the youth sides so he was always going to eventually get into it as well with so much experience.”
As far as his own involvement, Rodger is hoping to build on a debut performance that came during last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Cowdenbeath.
It was the defender’s first appearance since March after suffering an injury whilst at Brechin. A second-half run out against Hamilton Under 20s in Tuesday night’s Irn Bru Cup tie got more minutes in the legs after a fairly inactive start to life as a City player.
“My debut probably came a bit sooner than I expected, but I enjoyed it,” admitted the 23-year-old. “Obviously the result wasn’t ideal but looking back at the game, I don’t think there was much between the teams. A lot of the time in those games it’s one shot or mistake that decides it and unfortunately it never went for us, but I don’t think we’re that far away. Personally I enjoyed being back playing, it’s been a long time coming and hopefully there’s more to come.
“The big factor about going to a new club is getting in and playing. I had to wait around a bit but also put in a lot of hard work to get my fitness to where it is just now. Hopefully that’ll pay off and I can keep playing and perform well.
“All the boys have been brilliant since I arrived. It’s quite a new team, probably about half an half in terms of guys who were here last year and guys who have been brought in. Everyone’s been really accepting and I’ve got on well with everyone. It only took a couple of sessions to get to know everyone properly which means it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
Knowing he was to be leaving Brechin, the local aspect and opportunity to enjoy playing football is what appealed about the move Ainslie Park. “I’ve not had the best of luck since leaving St Johnstone a couple of years ago,” said Rodger. “I felt playing in my home city would allow me to relax and not have to worry about an hour and a half journey before games and training.
“Also speaking to the manager and chairman, I was excited about the team as soon as I heard their plans for the season. The project here is massive and I think good things are going happen at this club.”
That’s not to say they can’t take inspiration from his previous employers, who were shock Championship Promotion Play-Off winners. “I think I can bring that experience with me,” Rodger explained. “The majority of games last season, Brechin were underdogs but got a lot of good results. I don’t think City should be underdogs in every game this season with the team we’ve got. We’ve not had the start we wanted so we’ll maybe be put in that position by people looking at us but hopefully we can have the same results as Brechin.”