PAUL SHIELDS, who earned a £100,000 move from Raith Rovers to Celtic when John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish were in charge at Parkhead, is back in love with football and gunning for glory with Bonnyrigg Rose.
The 30-year-old, who had spells at Clyde, Forfar, Gillingham and Livingston after leaving the Glasgow giants, hung up his boots for a year after losing his appetite for the game.
It started coming back after he signed for Bo’ness two seasons ago, the striker helping the West Lothian club lift the first of their back-to-back Super League titles.
Now Shields is buzzing again as part of a Bonnyrigg side still in the hunt for four trophies this season under Max Christie.
Tomorrow, Rose travel to Ayrshire to take on Irvine Meadow in the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup quarter-finals – the same stage they lost to Bo’ness a year ago. “Even though I was playing full-time and earning good money in the seniors, I got to the stage where I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I once did,” said Shields, who lives in Bathgate.
“I took a year out and then ended up at Bo’ness. My career hasn’t been bad but I’d never won anything. I was always in teams that were mid-table or fighting against relegation.
“But at Bo’ness there was a winning mentality and it’s the same at Bonnyrigg.
“I’ve been rejuvenated and it’s a nice feeling to be back playing and scoring goals.”
After an acrimonious end to his spell at Bo’ness, Shields was at Broxburn briefly before Christie brought him to New Dundas Park along with Spartans duo Alex King and Ross Archibald last summer.
“It all ended nasty at Bo’ness, which was a shame. I fell out with someone who made the decisions, but it has worked out well for me,” he added.
“I’m grateful to Max for bringing me here.
“I think it was my performances for Bo’ness against Bonnyrigg that earned me this chance and I’m happy to be repaying the faith that has been shown in me.”
Rose got their season off to a sticky start with a poor League Cup campaign but have since enjoyed a remarkable campaign, which has seen them go behind in most games yet still manage to win more often than not.
“The League Cup was disappointing,” admitted Shields. “Broxburn, for instance, came here and turned us over 4-1.
“I was out injured at the time and there’s one game that I specifically remember – and I’m sure the gaffer, will too – as there were a couple of negative shots towards him. That was ridiculous as it shouldn’t happen so early in the season and he’s proved those people wrong by doing a great job.
“He’s meticulous in preparation, always having loads of sheets of paper about the opposition.
“He’s also brought players to the club who are winners and, at this level, a winning mentality outweighs skilful players. If you’ve got a will to win and a desire to go that extra mile, it’s fantastic.
“Wee Kingy, for instance, is different class. He’s probably one of the smallest players in the league but has a heart of a lion.”
In addition to the Junior Cup, Rose are also still in the East of Scotland Cup and the Fife & Lothians Cup. They’re also third in the Super League with games in hand on leaders Linlithgow.
“We don’t want the season to end in glorious failure,” insisted Shields.
“The last thing I want is to see us end up without a medal to our names, especially after all the hard work we’ve put in to get here.
“Yet, regardless of what happens between now and the end of it, I think this will still be a season people will talk about for a long time due to the way it’s panned out.
“We were talking about it in the club after training the other week and I admitted I’ve never seen a team win so many games after going a goal down. We didn’t play that well against Musselburgh last week but we showed tremendous spirit.
“We keep saying that we can’t keep going a goal behind but maybe we can as it’s working for us.
“People keep saying that our luck will run out but we believe in ourselves. We’ve got a team full of lads who don’t want to get beat.
“It’s a pleasure to be a part of this team.
“I’m delighted to be here as it’s a great bunch of lads with a great manager, great coaching staff and a great committee.” Shields tweaked his hamstring in scoring in the 4-1 win over Musselburgh and faces a fight against time to face Irvine Meadow.
But, if he doesn’t make it, he reckons Christie has able deputies in either Ryan McCallum or James Steele, who came off the bench to score a late double against Musselburgh.
“I was delighted for big Steeley last week,” admitted Shields.
“He plays in my position so is competition for me. But I look at him and he has all the attributes to be a top player.
“I feel for him as he’s not really had a run in the team due to the fact the other strikers have been scoring.
“It’s boys like him that I want to help. No-one was happier than me for him to score two last week and it bodes well as I could be struggling on Saturday.
“At least the gaffer knows the big man can come in and we’ve also got Ryan McCallum, who can do a good job as the target man.”