Steven Brisbane might have remained another in a line of talented footballers no longer in the game if it hadn’t been for a text message from one of his old youth team pals.
The former Falkirk midfielder was doing nothing on Saturdays after his summer release from Clyde when another ex-Bairns youngster, Connor Greene, encouraged him to come back to East Stirlingshire for a bit of training.
Brisbane, who played 30 times for Shire in 2014/15, needed little persuasion and that decision could be an important one for the club’s Lowland League season after he signed a short-term deal until May.
The 21 year-old midfielder lasted just over an hour of the 6-0 win over BSC Glasgow at The Recs on Saturday, but he deserved the applause he received from the Shire faithful as he came off.
More than that, though, he’s enjoying being part of the game. “It’s just about getting some fitness at the moment,” he said. “That was my first game since playing for Clyde in the play-offs last May. I’m just buzzing to be back and enjoying it again.
“I haven’t been playing but I’ve kept myself ticking over and I have been training by myself.”
He’s also been building his fitness up under the eye of Shire coach John Sludden for about a month and in that time he saw enough to offer the player a deal.
That was repaid almost instantly on Saturday. Barely three minutes into his return Brisbane played a precision pass through to Jamie Glasgow and the Shire frontman gave the team the lead they needed to go on and win the game.
After eight minutes it was 2-0. Derek Ure sent Paul Sludden free down the right wing and his cross was met by Andy Rodgers’ perfect close-range header.
Brisbane’s position behind the strikers was pivotal to everything Shire did in the first half. His run set up Sludden for a shot which the striker just dragged wide of the post, and he played Rodgers in with a lovely chip pass which almost ended up in an own goal as a home player sliced a clearance over his own bar.
From the resulting corner Connor Greene made the advantage 3-0, striking Derek Ure’s flag kick low into the net from six yards.
After 35 minutes it was 4-0, This time Ure set Sludden off down the left and he shot low into the net after a mazy run. Four minutes before the interval Brisbane should have capped an outstanding first half display with a goal as he collected the rebound from a shot the keeper couldn’t hold. He looked set to fire into the top corner but his aim was just too high.
“I’m just happy to be back,” said Brisbane of his first outing in more than half year. He admitted it had taken time to get his enthusiasm back after his summer rejection “After last season I stopped enjoying it and I just didn’t see the point.” But now he’s back, he clearly is loving it again. “I was alright in the first half,” he said modestly. “I don’t know about the second half, though.”
After the break Glasgow might have extended the lead but his near post effort was saved.
Brisbane’s final involvement was to start a flowing, five man, one touch passing move that ended with Sludden stroking the ball into the net for the fifth goal after 57 minutes.
Shire dominated the closing half hour. Brisbane’s replacement, David Grant, missed a great chance but Glasgow completed the scoring with a sensational long-range effort into the top corner after 72 minutes.