Ryan Wallace will come up against former side Stranraer this weekend as high-flying, free-scoring, Arbroath take on Stevie Farrell’s men in the William Hill Scottish Cup 3rd Round in Angus.
The former Dunfermline striker admits he is enjoying his football again, since returning to the part-time set-up in the summer of 2016.
“The thing is, when you play football, especially when you are having to do it at night after your work, it is so tiring at points. I think kids these days, who come through academies, are only taught about football and I think that is why a lot drop out of the game as regularly as they do right now. Sometimes, they need a reality check and learn what it is like in the real world, where there is more to life than sport. When they get released, because that is all they know, they can’t handle it. If I am honest with you, I actually prefer part-time football and the lifestyle I have now – I find it more satisfying.”
Wallace, who is a former Stranraer player, is relishing the opportunity of facing his previous employers.
“I know the manager, Stevie Farrell, personally and he is a great guy. I know Tiff [Chris Aitken] really well too – they are both fantastic people! I originally spoke with the manager on the phone last summer – I had a few offers to go elsewhere, but, he told me how he wanted to play and where he was going to play me, as well as who he was in the process of signing: I knew a lot of the guys already, so, I knew how good a squad we were going to assemble.
To be honest with you, I was sold on the move straight away and I really enjoyed my first 6 months there; unfortunately, then they began to have a few financial worries – it was almost like my time with Dunfermline all over again! It wasn’t as if we weren’t being paid, the club was just struggling a little bit…I got a phone call to say Arbroath were wanting to buy me and had placed an offer in to Stranraer for my services. The club, obviously, didn’t want to let me know, but, I said at the time it would be very silly of me to dismiss the opportunity – I felt I needed to at least talk to the manager of Arbroath first and see what he had to say.”
In the end, the 28-year-old attacker moved to Angus and has thrived under the stewardship of Dick and Ian Campbell.
“If anyone is willing to pay money for you at this level, then, I see it as a compliment. I was just glad to get the deal done to be honest with you; it was pretty painless and an easy process. To be fair, credit to Stranraer, too, they were fantastic with me – I have loved my time at Gayfield ever since I arrived. I think what has really helped me is that the gaffer would never let you slip, not for a second! If you have a bad game, he will tell you, if things aren’t going well, he will tell you: a spade is a spade with him and he is very straight-talking. He is similar to what ‘The Jet’ (Jim Jefferies) was like when I was managed by him; I find I perform better when I am told how it is.”
The Red Lichties are riding high in League One, as the Gayfield club take on their league rivals on Saturday in the William Hill Scottish Cup 3rd Round.
“I think the gaffer and Pink [Ian Campbell – Assistant Manager[ are brilliant and what they have achieved is incredible. From where the club was when they took over a couple of seasons ago, to now, it is unbelievable the success they have brought to the team. They are an absolute credit to the team and to themselves. To be honest with you, in the summer, we said we wanted to do one better than last season, so, that means promotion – whether that be through the play-offs or winning the league. The one thing you can say is we are maybe further ahead, points wise, than some may have thought we would be at this stage of the campaign, but, I don’t see why we can’t continue that good form on as our squad is absolutely fantastic; filled with match-winners all over the pitch. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be up there right now, but, we will just take things slowly – it is an old cliché, but, one game at a time for us is as far as we are willing to look ahead.
This weekend isn’t really any different: you still train two nights a week, do your preparation work and then turn up and play on a Saturday afternoon. We will treat this as a normal match – we will do everything properly. To be honest, it’ll just feel like a regular league game; we beat them 1-0 the last time, if I remember correctly, via an own goal, so, we know how good a team they are. We know where their threats lie and what they bring to the table. We will give them the respect they are due, turn up on Saturday and we will play the match how it should be played – hopefully we can find that all important win!”