HUGH Murray may have enjoyed a senior career stretching back to the summer of 1997 and incorporating close to 500 games – the majority played out in the top flight – but the 35-year-old insists a move to League 2 side Clyde shouldn’t be taken as a sign that he is winding down.
The former St Mirren and Partick Thistle midfielder was recruited by Barry Ferguson after falling out of favour at Dumbarton, where he hadn’t made an appearance since late August and hadn’t started a match since July.
After making his Clyde debut in a 1-1 draw against Queen’s Park at Hampden on Saturday, Murray, who watched a former team-mate play on well into his 40s, explained that he feels he still has plenty to offer and has no plans to hang up his boots any time soon.
“Andy Millen came to St Mirren when he was 36 and played for another five years,” he said. “That included winning the First Division and playing in the top flight. I have that drive and hunger as well. When I lose that I will know it is time to stop playing. It is a sign of the times as clubs are using young players, but I believe that I still have a lot of football left in me.”
Murray is a legend at St Mirren, where he spent 15 years and scored the goal in 1998 that saved the club from relegation to the third tier of Scottish football and possible financial oblivion.
After being moved on by Danny Lennon 14 seasons later, Murray helped Partick Thistle to promotion before joining Dumbarton in the summer of 2013. For a player that loves playing and still feels in good condition, his time at the Sons was frustrating as he failed to feature prominently in Ian Murray’s plans.
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After coming through the full 90 minutes of his first match since coming on as a late substitute against Rangers more than four months ago, Murray said: “I am 36 next year but that is not important as I am as fit as anyone. I look after myself and I went out and showed that by playing the 90 minutes on a big pitch at Hampden. I played against Stranraer in the Petrofac Cup back in July but have not started a match since. I want to get games under my belt again and that is one of the reasons I came here.
“I was not playing at Dumbarton and I did not feature as much as I would have liked last season either. I went back in for pre-season and was probably one of the fittest at the club, but I got dropped after the Stranraer game and that was it.
“I knew I was not going to be involved so I wanted to go somewhere that I would be. Clyde showed a bit of interest and things took off from there. The plan is to come here and get games.”
Ferguson has spoken often of his desire to bring in resilient and streetwise players. Murray falls into that category and aims to help the Bully Wee force themselves into play-off contention.
The Broadwood side sit well behind Arbroath, Albion Rovers and Queen’s Park in the promotion chase, but they are withing five points of fourth-place Annan. “Clyde are a young team and I want to give the players that are here a helping hand if I can,” he said. “I have not come here to sit near the bottom of the table and I want us to push towards the play-offs.
“Winning promotion is something that drives me and to be honest I do not want to be playing at the bottom level of Scottish football.” Saturday’s game saw Murray play against a Queen’s Park side coached by one of his former managers at St Mirren, Gus McPherson, and he came within seconds of getting the better of him. Iain Gray’s second-half goal looked to have given Murray a winning debut until Darren Miller levelled with an injury-time penalty.
“It is weird how football works sometimes as I played for Gus for a number of years and then my first game is against him,” said Murray. “He has put together a good side that refused to give up but it looked like we would hold out.
“They had a free kick just after that and I was thinking ‘oh surely not’. It is a point on the board but it was a sore way to be denied a win.”
Murray insists he has no immediate plans to turn his hand to coaching and is fully focused on playing for as long as he can. He said: “It is just good to be back playing. I have my B Licence and may look to coach at some stage but jobs are limited and I simply want to keep playing.”
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