Published: 18/05/2018 12:11 - Updated: 18/05/2018 12:40

VIDEO: Beattie can't wait to get started at Elgin

Written byCraig Christie

ELGIN City will united former Celtic players Craig Beattie and Jon-Paul McGovern for a fourth time in their long footballing careers.

Some of Craig Beattie's career highlights

Beattie (34) became City's second close-season signing last week when he penned a one-year deal at Borough Briggs following his departure from Edinburgh City.

But he won't be the oldest player in the Black and Whites' squad next term, as club captain McGovern is still going strong at the age of 37 and played in every game for the Moray side last season.

"I played with Jonny at Ayr United, Stirling Albion and I was also at Celtic when we were both younger so this will be the fourth time I've signed for a club that Jon-Paul McGovern is there," said Beattie.

Elgin City captain Jon Paul McGovern
Elgin City captain Jon Paul McGovern

"He's got a great footballing brain and is a good role model and someone the younger lads will look up to."

Beattie, a striker during his prime years as a Celtic and Scotland star, made the move back to centre half with Edinburgh last season with some success.

Perhaps with the Cumbernauld-based powerhouse entering the twilight years of a career which has seen spells at the likes of Hearts, Swansea City, West Brom, Crystal Palace, the switch to defence was made with his age in mind.

Yet he insists he feels fit and still has plenty to offer on the pitch.

"One thing I've got is experience. You get that at 34 with the number of clubs I've been at and the kind of journey I've been on.

"You maybe don't get that if you are not clever enough but I'd like to think I've learned enough along the way to pass on some stuff.

"My centre half career isn't that old but I felt comfortable in there at Edinburgh and the stats would back that up in that we were conceding a lot less goals with me in the team.

"So hopefully I can add a bit to the lads around me and likewise they will add something to me and my game as well.

"I'm feeling good and I'll work hard over the summer. I won't have too much time off so I'll come back in good shape and we will work hard over the pre-season, as everybody does.

"Once you get to this age it's really about maintaining the fitness that you've got and getting through the games. I'm feeling good and looking forward to it."

Beattie will be a vocal addition to the City squad and his strength and experience will help form a solid spine through the team.

"Looking through the squad and the core of the team there's myself at the back, Jonny McGovern in the middle and Shane (Sutherland) up front. It's a good experienced core."

Next season will be Elgin's 19th in the Scottish League since gaining election from the Highland League, and it has been a period of failure for the club.

Still stuck in the bottom tier, City have only managed to reach the promotion play-offs twice.

So could their next campaign be different, the first full season for manager Gavin Price?

Elgin City manager Gavin Price
Elgin City manager Gavin Price

Beattie believes things are shaping up nicely for a strong Black and Whites' challenge.

"Elgin is always one of the toughest fixtures and I know for a fact that the opposition will look at going up there thinking 'we are up against it here'.

"We've got to use that to our advantage and we know that the manager has had plenty time to look at his squad and identify where needs strengthened. He will be talking to others as well.

"We've certainly made a good start to next season already and that's off the field which is all you can do at this stage."

The player has no fears about travelling up from Cumbernauld to Elgin for home matches, or to Laurencekirk once a week for the club's new full-squad training sessions.

"Once you've played in the English Championship there's no such thing as long travelling.

"You're closest away game at times can be three hours away. That was the case at Swansea City when the closest away game was West Brom in the Midlands. OK, we travelled up the day before but there's times where maybe two or three times a week you've got four, five six hour bus journeys and then back, So it's not an issue for me.

"As for training, logistically for everybody it has to be the way ahead.

"If I am looking to go into training and work alongside my defensive partner, for example if it's Darryl McHardy and I'm training in Glasgow and he's training up the road then how on earth can you work on things together and go over things on the training ground?

"The logistics of where the club is situated and where a number of the players come from is probably not perfect but what we've done is we've got a happy medium where we will go up and we will train on a Wednesday night and at least we will all get together.

"I'm sure the boys will have no problem with that. If it works, which it should and hopefully does, and if you are getting yourself up the table and winning football matches, the rest of your life becomes that much easier and you can deal with these journeys."

And will Beattie be a mainstay in City's defence, or get an itch to return to his more familiar striking role in times of need?

"I would go in goals if I had to, I'm just that type of character. Whatever suits the team," he said.

"I've went in at centre back and felt relatively comfortable. I've done well enough for the manager to sign me, to catch the eye and if I don't go up front next season then I'll be quite happy because it means we don't have an emergency or we are not chasing the game needing a goal.

"If I play all my minutes at centre half next year I'll be delighted because I'll know that I'm doing something right."

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