Zander Murray hoping to improve on record goal tally for Gala Fairydean Rovers next season

Gala Fairydean Rovers’ top scorer last season, Zander Murray, has revealed why he turned down offers from rival clubs to sign a one-year contract extension at Netherdale.

Zander Murray celebrating after scoring for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Rangers B last season (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Zander Murray celebrating after scoring for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Rangers B last season (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Murray helped player-manager Martin Scott’s team to a 13th-place finish in the Scottish Lowland Football League last season, as well as reaching the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup’s final, and he’s hoping the Galashiels outfit can improve on that showing next time round.

“There was a lot of interest in me from other clubs but I’m at an age now – I’m 30 years old – where I want to be playing every week,” he told us.

“I know everyone around this level and I know whether I can fit in a team. I’m really happy to come back.

“I beat Stuart Noble’s record of 21 with 25 goals in a season for the club and it was nice to achieve that.

“I think if we’re stronger next season, with everybody back, I can probably get more.

“Gala are a hard-working club. They’re brilliant inside and out. The people there treat you really well and you can see the potential.

“At the start of the season, we were on a seven-game winning streak – we were flying – and all those boys are going to come back next year.

“We are all pretty close. There is a good spine to the club and I think that’s important for success.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the 2021/22 campaign is the only season Murray’s completed in a Gala shirt since joining from Pumpherston back in September 2019.

“My first season at Gala was hit by Covid from February 2020,” he said. “I then missed the majority of the second season due to a hip injury and Covid, so the last campaign was the first season I have actually finished, which was great.

“Obviously we weren’t at full strength for a lot of this season, but there is a unity there that I think is important if you want to win things.

“Combined with the quality that I know is coming back from injury, plus potentially players we’re going to sign, it definitely looks promising.

“The season before this we got in the top six and that was the best Gala have ever got.

“We had been chasing that again at the start of this season but I live in the moment and what will be will be.

“I can do everything I can to prepare, but all I can do is say it looks promising.

“You never know. Look at Dalbeattie at the start of the season. They were going for the league but eventually finished 12th, and I don’t know what they would say about that behind closed doors.”

Murray says he has been learning on the pitch from Scott, a fellow striker previously at clubs including Livingston, Hibernian and Ross County.

“He just has that experience, including Scottish Premier League experience,” said the former Broxburn player.

“He has won cups himself as a player and obviously playing with him has been brilliant. He’s helped me massively in my game.

“Every time he’s on the pitch, I think, he gives me an assist, and the amount of chances he gives me is brilliant.

“It’s just been a natural transition into becoming a gaffer for him, combined with Steven Craig, who I played under before when I was a junior at Pumpherston.

“The both of them work really well and the coaching’s at a high level.

“This isn’t their team – this is just a team they took over – so give them a crack of the whip and these boys know what they’re talking about. They’re born winners.

“Everybody’s bought into it.

“Once they get the players in that they want, I’m hoping for a really good season because this year we’ve beaten Bonnyrigg, Rangers B, Spartans and East Stirlingshire.

“We have beaten quality teams, so we just need to get that consistency. I’m hoping that happens next year.”