Jordan Hopkinson will be the first to admit his move to Civil Service Strollers seemed unlikely in the summer, but the winger now finds himself revelling in his new surroundings.
The 28-year-old former Selkirk playmaker has starred since joining the north Edinburgh club in August after a successful trial period.
Cup holders Civil face Newtongrange Star at New Victoria Park in a re-arranged South Region Challenge Cup third-round tie, and Hopkinson said: “I’ve been lucky enough to hit the ground running. I originally signed for Gala Fairydean Rovers at the start of the season, but the travel during the week was proving too difficult for me.
“I ended up training with five or six different teams before my close friend at Civil, Iain Ballantyne, asked if I wanted to come along to a training session and I really enjoyed it. The ground is just along the road from my house as well and I think I’ve scored about five goals in all competitions so I’m really enjoying my football here.
“Obviously, I would love to have a crack at playing in the SPFL on day. I trained with Brechin City last Christmas, but it wasn’t going to be the best move for me at the time.
“It worked out okay, though, because I earned a move to Selkirk who were on the up under Ian Fergus. He was a great coach to learn from. His training was fantastic, and all the boys enjoyed it.
“That’s been the same with Gary (Jardine) at Civil. Tactically, he’s brilliant and the club have made big strides forward in recent months.”
Strollers will arrive in Midlothian with a point to prove as they look to return to winning ways, following last Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat against Edusport Academy.
Hopkinson added: “Newtongrange are a strong side and they’ve only lost one game this season. I know they sit third in their league and haven’t lost a game in 12, so it will be a tough tie for us.
“They’ve got a couple of boys I know well from my time at Selkirk. I’ve already been on the group chat to a few of the boys and we’ve been winding each other up, so it would be good to get one over them.”