FIREFIGHTER Graham Bayne will hose down his boots and come out of retirement to play for Elgin City – if required.
But assisting close pal and former team-mate Barry Wilson off the pitch as the new Borough Briggs manager’s number 2 is top of his priority list for now.
Bayne (34) left Arbroath at the turn of the year to quit football and concentrate on his fire and rescue job and spend more time with his young family.
That all changed with a phone call from Wilson, shortly after he had been appointed as Elgin boss in January.
“I came here because it’s Barry. We’re very close mates from our time at Caley and our families are close, so when he got in touch asking me to help him out I had to come,” said Bayne.
“I was pretty much retired after I finished at Arbroath. It was partly frustration about what I was being able to contribute on the playing side, but I also had to think about my family and my job.
“But football is in my blood. I’ve been doing it since I was seven years old and it’s what I know best. I played full-time for 17 years which is a long time, and you never lose that bug. So any way of possibly making that longer would make me happy, and I’m here to help Barry out in whatever way.”
That could mean playing in games between now and the end of the season. Wilson has already hinted that Bayne would prove to be a handy emergency striker, or even a makeshift centre back due to his strength in the air.
With vast experience from his time as a Premier League goal-getter, he still has plenty to offer an Elgin side which has been accused of lacking leadership on the park on occasions this season.
Being based in Auchtermuchty – best known as the Fife town where The Proclaimers come from – and working with the Fire and Rescue service means a big commitment for Bayne to be Elgin’s assistant boss.
But he is juggling shifts to make himself available every Saturday, as well as for training sessions, particularly next week when Wilson is away in Spain on holiday during the week.
His coaching credentials are impressive. As well as having his UEFA ‘B’ licence, he has completed most of his youth pathway, served a soccer school in Fife, bossed a number of kids’ teams and even coached his local amateur club in Auchtermuchty.
Assessing Elgin’s strengths and weaknesses has now become his focus. He watched the team win 3-2 at Berwick in his first match, before slumping to defeat by the same scoreline against Stirling, having been 2-0 up in the match.
Losing leads has become a regular occurrence with the Black and Whites this term, and Bayne feels there could be a fear factor in the side whenever they get an advantage over their opponents.
“If the stats do show that they would be top of the league if they had held on to all of their leads, I think that shows they have taken a mental bashing,” Bayne said. ”Obviously it’s getting in their heads.
“When they are leading a game and doing OK and then somebody knocks one in, they are naturally going to think ‘here we go again’ if it’s happened that amount of times before.
“So it’s up to us to try and change that, maybe alter something tactically or change the style of play at the right time of the game.”
Bayne will re-assess his role with Elgin at the end of the season to see if he can commit to the club in the longer term.
But he insists that whatever happens, he will not follow his friend into football management.
“I always said from a young age if I was coaching I would love it to be with younger kids, or that I might make a good assistant manager.
“Mind you, when I was at Caley with Barry I also said I would never play for him if he went into management, and I’ve ended up signing for him now as a player.”