Lewis Barr’s injury hell is over and the Penicuik Athletic captain is raring to go as the club look to make an instant impact in the East of Scotland League.
The midfielder tore his ankle ligaments just as he was making a name for himself in Johnny Harvey’s starting XI and Senior clubs were chasing his signature. The injury left him sidelined for seven months.
The 24-year-old former East Fife youngster was forced to miss out on Penicuik’s East of Scotland Cup triumph over Tranent just eight weeks ago as the Cuikie signed off their time in the Juniors with silverware.
Tomorrow they return to the scene of their cup success, when they visit Linlithgow Rose at Prestonfield in Qualifying League Section C action, with Barr fresh from his first competitive start in more than half a year, when he played 70 minutes on Tuesday night in their 1-1 draw with Crossgates Primrose.
“At first we thought I had only strained my ligaments so I thought I would be back in eight weeks, then a couple of months went by with no improvement and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it, so I had to go private and see a specialist,” said Barr. “It was then I found out I had torn them.
“It’s always when you’re at the top of your game that injuries happen.
“I had been playing countless games and I was flying; the team were doing pretty well. It was actually a Saturday training session, I think it was at the World of Football; I just knew at the time it was bad.
“The boys went on to have a good end to the season.
“You sort of change your mentality. At first you are gutted in a selfish way but near the end, with the boys getting to the final and winning, I was just delighted.”
Barr rejected offers to move up the ladder by committing to Penicuik in March, at a time when he was still in the dark over the severity of his injury. He had no doubt in his mind, however, that extending his contract with the club where he’s found happiness was the right thing to do.
He continued: “There was an option to go [Senior] but I just felt at the time with my injury and stuff that I wasn’t fit and Penicuik know how much I enjoy it as well. That’s the best football I’ve played, before my injury, and I think that’s just reflected on the way we play as team.
“Getting the option to go Senior is going to interest anyone, I’ve been there before and I know what it is like. I’ve no regrets about my choice. My main focus was just to get back fit, because I know how important it is just to be playing games and to be happy.
“I just enjoy it. The end of my time at East Fife was just horrendous, and I have found a place where I have fallen back in love with the game.”
Penicuik know victory over Linlithgow tomorrow, who have picked up just one point from their two matches so far, will secure Penicuik top spot in the group and qualification for the Central Taxis East of Scotland League Cup first round.
Looking to make an instant impact in Penicuik colours is veteran striker Wayne McIntosh who sealed a surprise switch to Penicuik Park in the summer after a goal-laden three year spell with Bonnyrigg Rose.
Manager Harvey hailed his signing and that of former Edinburgh City star Jordan Caddow as a coup for the club.
He said: “We’ve brought in Wayno from Bonnyrigg who is an experienced striker and a proven goalscorer. He’s got a few trophies under his belt so he has a winning mentality which brings a lot to the squad.
“We’ve also brought in Jordan Caddow from Edinburgh City who has really good experience of playing at a decent level. He’s one of the older heads in the team and he’s already a big character in the dressing room.”