I have got my boots and shin guards on in excitement as I write this week’s column. It’s Airdrie away in first game of the competitive season this afternoon!

Some of the boys might find it a bit strange with no fans there but I’ll be ready. I spent four years playing in front of a man and his dug at the Excelsior Stadium in the reserves on a Tuesday afternoon.

The first game of the season gives you a real indication of how boys are in competitive games. I’ve lost count of the amount of players I’ve seen look like George Best during pre-season, only to reveal themselves as no the f***ing Best when the real baw comes oot.

Airdrie brings back great memories of my reserve team days at Celtic. I think back to my debut for the under-21s – 4-0 up and ready to go on, Kenny McDowall put his arm round me told me to relax and enjoy it. Two minutes later after a sloppy first pass I had Kenny screaming, “Hey you ya muppet! One more of them you’ll be back sitting next to me!”

HeraldScotland:

I imagine there will be plenty of them today and I’m just glad it’s the more relaxed Jimmy Mac standing on the sidelines. I’m hoping for a big win for the Blue Toon although if my track record is anything to go by, Jimmy Mac could turn into Kenny McDowall come 5 o’clock.

My first one came as 21-year-old who headed up to Aberdeen with not a clue about first-team football. Even if I had dunked my head into the North Sea on arrival I still couldn’t have been wetter behind the ears. The under-21 rule had come into play so me and Paul Caddis spent the three-hour journey trying to work out which sort of cameo Tony Mowbray would be looking for us to play.

Those thoughts were quickly on the waltzers at Codona’s as Mogga held a meeting before the match, purely to say the new under-21 rule was a disgrace and it would take a miracle for us young lads to get on. Seeing as I was just there to make the numbers up with no chance of seeing the Pittodrie pitch, I ate a full loaf of toast pre-match much to everyone’s amusement, while during the game me and Cads argued and even betted our win bonus on who Mogga hated more. Needless to say, Cads ended up collecting when a week later I was punted to Swindon.

I arrived when they were three games into the season but both myself and the team went on to have a blinder, finishing fourth and reaching the League One play-off final.

I decided that because I’d done so well the season before – and also because I was a complete moron at the time – I’d get ‘S**t Happens’ tattooed on my backside two days before the season starts. Danny Wilson, the manager, found out and instead of concentrating on Brighton we spent the Friday before the first game of the season playing bare arse with me bent over on the goal line! I counted nine Mitres connecting and with the pain so bad, I had to stand instead of sitting at my usual place on the bench come 3 o’clock the next day.

HeraldScotland:

In the end, s**t did happen that year as we were relegated and as luck would have it, I wouldn’t be the only one showing off my backside to the lads. The season ended with our new manager Paul Hart having his bum on show as he gave a speech in his underpants at Sheffield Wednesday. You couldn’t write it!

Due to all the arsing around the previous season, Paolo Di Canio was appointed Swindon Manager the following summer. I will dedicate a full column in the future to my favourite manager but I’ll keep this one to the subject at hand.

It’s fair to say things changed when the big man arrived. I went from having nine leather Mitres hitting off my bum one day to having size 9 leather brogues boot it every day. This was due to my 38-inch waist and my lack of enthusiasm for four-hour sessions where we would practise how to run backwards properly for 40 minutes of it! After the first 6 weeks where I imagine he liked Paul Alcock (the ref he pushed) more than me, I finally managed to win him over through running about a bit more and cutting the beers down to three times a week.

With us now on speaking terms, I get a nasty shock right before the season starts. We played Burnley in our last friendly and he left me as the last sub, choosing to put on young kids before me. I ended up throwing eight weeks of being a fitness fanatic down the pan by arguing with him on the touchline before going on with two minutes to go.

HeraldScotland:

After the game, he flips. He screams in my face that it would take a miracle (sounds familiar) for me to play for his team again. To make things worse, a week later we play Crewe at home and the guy playing ahead of me scores a 30-yard volley into the top corner!

At this stage I really was fearing for my career and I begged my agent to get me out of this nightmare. However, miracles do happen as I somehow managed to win him over again and play nearly every game that season and we won the league at a canter. In a tribute to the bad times, I did my best Paul Hart impression and went out on the pitch in my pants to collect my medal, with Di Canio chasing after me pleading me not to take any more of my clothes off!

No matter what happens today, I just hope it’s me running about Balmoor in my pants come the end of the season – and not Jimmy having a rant in his!