Remembered in Edinburgh for one particular Scottish Cup goal and a celebration that will go down in Hearts folklore, Craig Beattie has returned to the capital and to a club where the home ground lends itself perfectly to the prospect of regular re-enactments of the jubilation that followed spot-kick success against Celtic.
Edinburgh City’s new signing knows he will never live down the 2012 semi-final post-penalty partying, when he stripped to the waist and headed off on a sprint around the Hampden track, and he still revels in it, joking that former team-mate Ryan McGowan, who set off in hot pursuit of him that day, is still trying to catch him.
The athletics track, which wraps itself around the newly-elevated League 2 club’s Meadowbank pitch presents a perfect platform for repeats of that goal celebration but, more than four years on, he concedes there would be one notable difference. “I wouldn’t be as quick this time!” he laughs.
That is good news for any colleague seeking to congratulate him, but the fact he is even plotting goal celebrations is bad news for opponents.
The striker, who has been capped seven times for Scotland, also counts Celtic, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City among past employers, making him the biggest signing ever made by the first club to successfully negotiate the pyramid play-offs and swap the Lowland League for the professional set-up.
“We have been looking all summer to get someone with experience who can be a leader on the pitch,” explained manager Gary Jardine. “I can’t think of anybody better than Craig. A while ago we had Russell Latapy but he only lasted a game and it was more about the publicity, although the players still talk about it. But the thing about Craig is that he is a winner and you can tell he still loves football and is still hungry to do well.”
“I can’t wait to get going. I’m really excited,” said the 32-year-old, ahead of today’s Betfred League Cup tie with St Mirren followed by the opening league fixture against Forfar next Saturday. “I think Edinburgh City have attracted a lot of attention because last year was the first year that the restructuring actually brought about a promotion. There has been that underlying issue in Scottish football where East Stirlingshire have finished bottom for several years and there was no real pressure because they couldn’t get relegated. But, after last year, that has all changed and there will be a few clubs looking at it thinking ‘we know what can happen here’, so this club has caused a real stir. ”
Training at Riccarton, where Hearts have their day-to-day base, evokes happy memories for the guy who has won three Scottish Premier League titles, three Scottish Cup Winners medals, an English Championship title and a Scottish Championship title in his career . “
“It’s nice to be back in Edinburgh, and particularly back [at Riccarton]. I had a great time here. I didn’t play too many games but I somehow managed to turn myself into a fans’ favourite, which I don’t think is ever going to go away.”
In fact, it was nine appearances, scoring three goals.
“I always get invited back to Tynecastle,” he said. “The fans welcome me with open arms, which is something special. Those are memories I will look back on and cherish further down the line when I am thinking about what I have achieved. However, I’m professional enough to look forward and hopefully I’ll create some more great moments here. I’ve got new focus which is doing as well as possible with Edinburgh City.”
And he isn’t done with the promise of silverware. “All you need to do is look at Leicester City! I’m not standing here saying we’re going to go and win anything, but we’re going to have a right good go.”
There are butterflies as he embarks on another pre-season but the beaming grin and the enthusiasm suggest there is also a sense of anticipation
“I’m as excited as I’ve been in a long time! There were other things I could have pursued but there really was a feelgood factor about Edinburgh City. There is something happening here.”
Having made the climb up to League 2, he believes the club is taking off. If all goes well he will be at the forefront of that, waving a jersey around his head as he heads off around the Meadowbank track with the chasing pack trying to make up lost ground.