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Daily Record
Daily Record
Paul Thomson

East Kilbride Thistle signing 17 years in the making for Jamie Longworth

Jamie Longworth has revealed signing for East Kilbride Thistle’s first team has been 17 years in the making after he checked in at the Showpark this week.

New Jags gaffer Garry O’Hanlon has pulled off a bit of a signing coup by enticing the former Stranraer and East Kilbride FC striker to his hometown club in the West of Scotland Football League.

The pair once played together for Thistle’s under-21s almost two decades ago and now they have been reunited as their football journeys come full circle.

And Longworth, who spent the past two seasons at WOSFL rivals St Roch’s, has explained how his move to the Jags has been 17 years in the making.

He said: “I actually played for EK Thistle under-21s when I was 17 and Brian McMullan [the Jags chairman] was the manager then.

“He asked me to sign for the first team but I went to Kilbirnie instead because Chris Erskine is my big mate and we both went there.

“But it’s amazing that, here we are now, 17 years later and I’m part of the team.

“I met Brian again on Saturday there so it’s funny how it has worked out.

“It was a cracking team we had in the 21s, looking back. Big Garry was there, Stephen McClung was there, Sean Winter and Paul Woods. It just wasn’t quite the time for me then but this is the right time for me to be at Thistle.

“It actually almost happened a couple of years ago before I signed for to St Roch’s. I spoke to [former EK boss] Alan Paterson but I’d already agreed to sign for St Roch’s so I had to say thanks, but no thanks that time as well.

“But I’m excited to get started.”

Longworth in action for Stenhousemuir against Hamilton in 2017 (SNS Group)

Former Stranraer and Stenhousemuir star Longworth is the latest exciting summer signing at the Showpark, with former Clyde and Montrose midfielder David Gray and experienced ex-EKFC and Wishaw goalkeeper Iain Stewart also joining in the last week.

Jags player/coach Aaron Connolly played his part in getting the 34-year-old to sign up and Longworth believes the club are assembling a strong squad for their WOSFL Third Division campaign kicking off on July 30.

He added: “It’s going to be a very competitive league this season so you need the legs, but the more experience we can get in there as well the better.

“I think it will be a group of boys who know each other well, know how each other play and that can only be good for the team to help us hit the ground running.

“This season I felt I maybe needed a change and when Aaron spoke to me I thought it’s very handy for me and I know a few guys like David Gray, Scott Hadden and Iain Stewart who have signed as well.

“It’s a good squad to get involved with. You’ve got a lot of young talented boys in there as well like Danny Hashim up front.

“If we put in experience around them, hopefully we get the best of both worlds.

“I’m 35 next month so I think it’s a good move for me. I think I’ve got a good couple of years left in me and hopefully I can help EK Thistle during that time.

“It was a straightforward decision for me.”

It could be a bit surreal for Longworth having his old team-mate O’Hanlon now calling the shots, but he says he is looking forward to what the new gaffer will bring to the party at Thistle.

“It’s ironic that Garry was part of the team when I was with the 21s here, but regardless of how long I’ve known him, I’ve got massive respect for him. He’s the leader,” he said.

“Garry is still a great footballer himself and I know the way he will want to play.

“He’s very interested in getting the ball down and passing it.

“I’m happy to help him if he needs me but at the end of the day I’m happy to listen to him and take his cues.

“I’m excited to see what kind of team he puts together and I think we’ve got a good bunch together so far with maybe one or two others to come in.

“He’s a great big guy and I think the all the boys will respect him massively.”

Follow Lanarkshire Live Sport on Twitter via @LanLiveSport, like us on Facebook or find us on Instagram for the latest sports news, pictures and video.

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