Gregor Buchanan describes the soccer season wherein he achieved a uncommon double promotion as a fairytale – but it surely was one attained towards a background of household heartache.
The 28-year-old central defender helped St Mirren set up a lead within the first half of the season that lay the muse for Scottish Championship title glory.
Having moved to title rivals Livingston in January, the second half of the marketing campaign was dominated by household issues as his sister Christie battled to recuperate from a stroke.
Nevertheless, the season ended with the pair reunited in celebration at Firhill for the Premiership play-off closing win over Partick Thistle.
“It has been a little bit of a surreal season,” Buchanan advised BBC Scotland. “At the beginning, I used to be with St Mirren and I had excessive hopes that I used to be going to win promotion with them.
“Clearly I used to be delighted, ultimately, that each groups went up. I do not suppose that has ever been achieved earlier than.
“Simply earlier than the play-offs, I used to be getting messages saying I might be a pub quiz query fairly quickly if I managed to do it.”
Having been a daily starter firstly of the marketing campaign, Buchanan had determined to change to St Mirren’s title rivals after discovering himself relegated to the bench for the latter of the 16 appearances that qualify him for a Championship medal.
However two video games into his Livi profession got here the information that his sister was combating for her life in hospital.
“That first week was one in all large uncertainty,” he recalled. “She had moved by way of totally different hospitals and the supervisor had mentioned to take as a lot time as I needed.
“However my household and my girlfriend pushed me in direction of not doing that and it in all probability ended up being the appropriate resolution.
“Though the supervisor saved me included in squads and I used to be on the bench for just a few video games, I do know now he was by no means going to place me on.”
‘My head in all probability wasn’t proper’
“He did not let me sit on the aspect desirous about what was occurring however saved me concerned within the soccer,” Buchanan continued.
“Though I believed on the time I ought to have been taking part in, it was in all probability the appropriate resolution for me to not be as a result of my head wasn’t proper.
“I knew I might be wanted later within the season and that ended up being the case.”
Buchanan had performed 11 instances for Livi by the point they sealed their return to the Premiership and, along with supervisor David Hopkin, his team-mates and household, the defender thanked John Hartson for the position he performed in pulling him by way of such troublesome instances.
The previous Celtic and Wales striker, who coaches at the Tony Macaroni Arena, has had his personal nicely publicised battle to beat testicular most cancers.
“The primary day I went again in, he pulled me to the aspect immediately and was good with me,” Buchanan mentioned.
“He began speaking about what he had gone by way of and mentioned this stuff occur and ‘if I am nonetheless right here, there’s hope for everyone’.
“It was a large weight off my shoulders on the time.”
Buchanan got here off the bench as Livi accomplished their 3-1 mixture win over Thistle and the household pleasure was magnified by 30-year-old Christie having recovered sufficiently to make a return to the stands to share within the celebrations.
“We had mentioned just a few weeks earlier that she in all probability would not be again this season, however when it was such a special day, the household agreed that she would get the chance to go and he or she beloved each minute of it,” he mentioned.
“A couple of months in the past, she may not have been right here in any respect and it was good for her to get alongside and benefit from the recreation.”
Now Buchanan faces new uncertainty with supervisor Hopkin having rejected a contract extension with English golf equipment, together with Bradford Metropolis, among the many potential suitors.
“All of the gamers that had been there have been supplied new contracts, so we’re simply ready to see what occurs there as a result of, with the supervisor having been touted for lots of jobs, I believe they’ve needed to get that sorted first,” he revealed.
“I’ve had just a few gives from Championship groups, however I needed to firstly converse to Livingston and see the place we are able to go from there.”
Buchanan was a late starter in senior soccer having had spells with junior golf equipment Armadale Thistle and Bathgate Thistle after being launched by Falkirk as a 16-year-old.
He acquired his probability once more with Airdrieonians in 2012 and moved on to Dunfermline Athletic and Dumbarton earlier than becoming a member of St Mirren final summer season.
Having supplemented his revenue promoting insurance coverage whereas part-time earlier than becoming a member of the Buddies, Buchanan will not be solely eager to stay full-time however grasp the belated alternative to grace the highest flight.
“With my age and the way in which my profession went, for those who advised me 5 or 6 years in the past I might have the prospect to play within the Premiership, I might have bitten your hand off and doubtless thought that will by no means occur,” he admitted.
A ball-playing central defender in an analogous mould to his father Gordon, who performed for Coventry Metropolis, Falkirk and Stenhousemuir, Buchanan thinks it could be an area that will go well with his recreation.
“The decrease the league, the extra frantic and 100-miles-an-hour it’s and hopefully within the Premiership, like the highest of the Championship, you do get a bit extra time on the ball,” he added.
“If I get the chance to play within the Premiership, I might like to take it.
“I took a significant threat by taking place the junior route and fortunately it is paid off as a result of, after three years within the juniors, I acquired right into a senior workforce.
“I have been very fortunate that I’ve performed greater than 200 video games since and featured within the majority of video games each season.
“It is a dream come true and a little bit of a fairytale story.”