Selkirk manager Steve Forrest has described his search for Garry O’Connor as a case of “planes, trains and automobiles” after the former Scotland striker completed his switch to the Lowland League side.
The 31-year-old, who most recently endured a miserable spell with Morton, officially signed a one-year deal with the Borders club yesterday, although it has been revealed that he will be playing for free.
The move came about following a flippant conversation between Forrest and his assistant Paul Doig, during which they described O’Connor as their “dream” No 9 for the upcoming campaign.
However, when they decided to pursue the ex-Hibs, Birmingham and Lokomotiv Moscow man, it became apparent that he is not an easy character to track down.
Forrest beamed: “Myself and Paul were discussing our dream team for the coming season and he wrote down Garry O’Connor’s name as a joke. I thought he would be perfect and said: ‘Let’s get him!’
“I had Garry’s phone number from before but he changed it and we had to hunt it down. We had to go through our contacts at Hibs and few other avenues – it was a bit of a challenge.
“As you can imagine, Garry is quite protective over his privacy, so it was a bit tricky and it was literally a case of trains, plane and automobiles trying to track him down.
“However, it has all been worth it now. We got the answer we were after and we are delighted to have him here.”
When Forrest did finally hunt down O’Connor, he was able to draw on their previous experience of working and socialising together as he attempted to convince the big striker to drop to Scotland’s fifth tier.
He continued: “Our connection is that I coached at Hibs for a long time and was at Hutchison Vale before that.
“I remember when wee Gaz – I say ‘wee’, but he was always a monster – was a 14-year-old at Hutchie Vale, so I have known him off and on for a good while.
“We knew each other through football and we would always chat and shoot the breeze. When I got in touch again I just asked whether he would fancy it at Selkirk and we had a wee chat. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Lauding O’Connor’s enthusiasm for the upcoming challenge, Forrest says the controversial forward, who boasts 16 caps for the national side, is keen to learn his trade as a coach.
And, ahead of their season opener against Threave Rovers this afternoon, Forrest insists O’Connor’s experience will be pivotal to the young players around him.
The former Hibs coach said: “The list of the teams he has been at, the caps that he has for Scotland and the experience that brings, it is absolutely invaluable.
“Paul [Doig] and I have coached at a high level, but nowhere near where Garry has played. So it is wonderful to get him in.
“He has said to us: ‘I’ll play for nothing, I want to get fit and I really want to coach.’ He wants to learn from us here and that is music to my ears. His enthusiasm is fantastic. Like any player his age, he is looking at the next stage in his career.”