Neil McCallum to take one last tilt at cup glory

Neil McCallum. Pic:  Neil Hanna Photography
Neil McCallum. Pic: Neil Hanna Photography
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Neil McCallum is getting ready to pack his cricket gear away and put it into the attic for the last time in a few weeks after a superb career – but not before he attempts to win a third Citylets Scottish Cup crown with Mazars Grange this afternoon.

The 40-year-old batsman, who also chips in with some useful wickets, has revealed that he plans to step down from playing duties at the end of this summer.

The former Scotland player – who retired from international duties in 2011 – has been a near constant in Scottish cricket for over 20 years, firstly with Watsonians and then, since 2005, with Grange.

Indeed, he recently made his 150th league appearance for the Portgower Place men and has helped them to lift a number of trophies in the last 14 seasons.

He has played in four previous Cup finals – two wins in 2013 and 2014 and two defeats in 2006 and 2015 – and is determined to win it for a third time when his side take on Heriot’s at Meikleriggs in Paisley this afternoon.

“I have always loved the Scottish Cup, it really is the showpiece event in our domestic game and a good crowd always comes out to watch, so I am buzzing to be on this stage one last time,” McCallum said.

“In my first final we lost out to Greenock and I remember scoring a century in that final and thinking I wanted more occasions like that because when you are watching the other team celebrating it is not much fun.

“Winning back-to-back Cups in 2013 and 2014 was a great feeling before Arbroath beat us the following year.

“This season’s run has been pretty memorable and seeing 15-year-old Tom Mackintosh keep his composure and hit the winning runs against Ferguslie in the semi-final last month was something else.

“He and fellow youngsters Charlie Peet and Jamie Cairns have not looked out of place in our team this year as we have been aiming for a CSL Eastern Premiership and Cup double and it is testament to their abilities that they are in the squad for this match.

“We know Heriot’s are a good side who have a number of match winners while their captain Keith Morton is a good friend of mine and leads his team well, so it should be a good occasion.”

After this match McCallum will have next week’s league encounter with Stewart’s Melville and potentially the Grand Final against Ferguslie to come, but will he miss looking out his whites every April?

“Yes, I am sure I will, but things change and I have a young family now and I know that Grange is in great hands going forward,” he stated. “It will be hard leaving the dressing room for the final time, but that is at the back of my mind just now and I just want to concentrate on helping the team win this trophy.”