Hall of Fame berth for Blair
Blair Alston has racked up 200 Falkirk appearances to enter the Bairns Hall of Fame '“ and he's determined to make more '“ suspensions and injury pending.
The midfielder’s contract is running out and there has been public interest from St Johnstone, and a rumoured switch to Aberdeen on transfer deadline day did not have any substance.
But the midfielder admitted he did not expect to reach 200 games for Falkirk – and you can’t rule out further.
“You always aim to play as many times as you can, maybe not 200 but I’m proud to have done it and hopefully there will be more,” the 23-year-old said.
“When I heard it was close I was thinking I’d have to cut down on the bookings, so I’m pleased I made it. If you’d said I was going to make 200 I wouldn’t have expected it. To play any game at all at this level is a big achievement as a footballer, so to play 200 I’m really proud.”
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The midfielder’s options are open, and he can be forgiven for seeking a new challenge – if that’s what he decides to do.
In his 200 games he has played 32 games – almost a full season – against Livingston and Raith Rovers.
Neither of those sides feature in his most memorable games as he looks back on six and a half years in the first-team squad, four managers and 31 goals.
“The cup final will always stand out because of the occasion and the achievement of getting there.
“It was so disappointing but it always stands out.
“Before then, Dunfermline on Boxing Day a few years ago when I scored the winner is special... even though I don’t think I played terribly well that day.
“To score the winner was special and the one against Hamilton in the quarter final is probably the best goal I’ll ever score so that sticks in the memory. It also sent us to Hampden so it was quite a special goal.”
Alston scored in the following round to send the Bairns 3-0 up against Hibs, but “we try to forget about that one. That’s another big disappointment,” he added.
“In the semi-final last year was the most ecstatic I’ve ever felt after a football match, having the final to look forward to and the way we were under the cosh for so long, and to be involved in the goal was special too.”
As he looked back in time, Alston has also stepped back in time recently too. At one stage he was an old-timer in the Bairns dressing room, but with more experienced older heads added in the last year, he’s now one of the ‘middle-aged’ group.
“Training has changed a lot. When I first started it was at Stirling and now we’re at the Stadium every day.
“I was one of the old ones at one stage and I’ve moved back into the middle ground a bit – we do old, middle and young boxes at training on a Friday and I’m usually middle but sometimes I’ll be the youngest old boy depending on who’s taking part.
“The squad has strengthened with experience in recent years and the young guys are coming through.
“It’s strange being one of the older ones, or at least in the middle ground.
“It’s nice to have some of the younger boys talking to you about stuff that’s happened and then I’m only 23. It makes you feel a little more respected around the dressing room.
“Over the 200 games there’s been a lot of people come and gone, but the environment has always been the same. It’s always been a great club to be at.”
Alston has been a permanent fixture in the first-team matchday squads since season 2010-11 and his debut the season before.
“My first appearance was a League Cup game and what I remember about it is – not remembering it!
“It passes so quickly you don’t remember what happens but in my first start later in that season I remember more – I scored in that game and that settled me and made me feel I was contributing. They were both against Partick.
“Sometimes you have teams you play well against - this season I’ve been scoring against Dumbarton, earlier on in my career I always seemed to score against Partick. There was a spell I was doing well against Raith Rovers too.
“I’ve had peaks and troughs of form, but Alex Smith warned me that would happen, and it’s all about consistency.
Now is the best point in my career playing consistently and contributing.”