There is nothing he would like more than to be able to continue his career with Heart of Midlothian, the club he has always supported.
But Brad McKay is prepared to open a new chapter in his career elsewhere if negotiations to exit administration are not resolved by the end of the season and he is forced to move on due to the club’s straitened circumstances.
McKay, who has featured 26 times this season and only made his debut for the club a year ago, admits he has already started thinking about a “Plan B” as efforts to emerge from
administration begin to drag on at Hearts due to events – or non-events – elsewhere. His contract is worded in such a way as to ensure the club have the power to decide whether they wish to retain his services for an extra year or not. If they do not wish to – or indeed they can’t – offer him a further year, then McKay knows he will need to have other options to fall back on. He cannot afford to wait to hear whether he has been jettisoned or not.
“You would be silly to not have a Plan B,” he said. “If anyone sits and tells you I am just sitting around waiting it would be a lie. You need to have a Plan B just in case.”
“You have to look at your options, no question,” he added. “You have to look at your options – will it be Hearts or will it not be Hearts?”
The centre-half certainly does not lack confidence. He has every faith in his own ability as he looks ahead to tonight’s televised clash with Dundee United at Tynecastle, when a Hearts defence that has conceded ten goals in their last three clashes seek to keep their opponents’ highly-rated youngsters at bay. McKay certainly isn’t one of the players who anyone needs fear has been damaged by exposure to regular top-tier football, a concern regularly heard when the potential consequences of Hearts blooding so many youngsters are contemplated.
However, when he does find himself in need of a boost, he opens the pages of a book that has helped him cope with an arduous debut campaign. It has also earned him the inevitable ridicule of his team-mates. McKay dips into a multi-million selling book titled The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. The publication has been dismissed as psycho-babble in some quarters. “Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills,” the author writes at one point. Her recipe for success melds scientific and philosophical ruminations and concludes that the universe is governed by a natural law that rewards positive thinking. McKay concedes it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
“I get some stick from the boys in the dressing room about it,” he said. “Some of the boys laugh about it. It’s quotes for every day, and it keeps me sane. It is as simple as that. Some people use different things to keep them sane like family and friends, or simple things like walking the dog. I walk the dog, but I walk my dog reading The Secret.”
“It helps you deal with negative situations,” he added. “There have been a few negative situations in my life and to overcome them it is hard. Simple things like reading a quote to deal with different scenarios in your life are important to me. Sometimes you will open it and it doesn’t make sense to you because it is about the universe. Some of the stuff makes no sense to me. But, other times, I’ll flick it open and it does make sense to me. It relates to the day you have had, the week you’ve had or even the year you’ve had.”
McKay turns 21 next month and he is desperate to build on his first full season of regular action in the top tier in Scotland. If this isn’t to be with Hearts, then it will have to be elsewhere,
although he admits that he would be “heartbroken” to leave the club. He stresses that playing for Hearts is “all I wanted to do”. However, now he has achieved this dream, he admits that it has made him “hungry”. He added: “It makes you think what else is out there?” McKay feels he has proved himself this season and he is anxious to know what the future holds for him.
“It becomes difficult and a wee bit frustrating,” he said. “But the future of the club is very important. This time last season we were worrying whether there would even be a Hearts. But it does become difficult and while it does not play on your mind, it is in the back of your mind.
“It is not something you don’t think about. But I am confident in my ability if it did not work out at Hearts and I was not offered something here or something did go wrong – touch wood. Because Hearts are the only team I wanted to play for and now I have achieved it. Once I have got a taste for the first team and playing at Tynecastle, and in big games, it makes you hungry.