Gavin Reilly was looking forward to a season close to home – but now he’s relishing the chance to become a hero with Livingston at Hampden.
The striker joined Carlisle United last summer, an ideal move for him, with his family based in Dumfries and Gretna. But things didn’t work out at the English League Two club on the park and Livingston handed him a fresh start in the winter window.
Now looking ahead to a League Cup final on Sunday against St Johnstone, Reilly says it’s been a strange season as he begins to work under David Martindale: “I was at Cheltenham Town during the first half of last season and then went back to Bristol Rovers.
“In the summer, I said that if I could pick any team that I would want to go at some stage in my career, it would have been Carlisle. It’s the location, I am from Gretna originally and my partner is from Dumfries. It was ideal for us being home but it didn’t work out in a football sense.
“Livingston were then interested and I was happy to get things done and dusted. I knew when I came in that I had to be patient as the run the guys had been on was incredible. The team have been flying and the two defeats took the wind out our sails a bit. But we had a valuable point gained against St Mirren ahead of the big one.”
It’ll be a strange build-up on matchday for Livingston as they take cars to Hampden instead of a team bus, a precautionary measure after a Covid-19 case a few weeks ago. Reilly was the player who received the positive test but insists he’s fit and raring to go on Sunday.
He said: “I have heard different stories but my time with Covid-19, I had two days of feeling worn down and feeling like I had the flu. I lost my taste on one of the days but I don’t mind as my cooking is rubbish anyway! After those two days I was back to normal but people have had it worse than me.
“I played 65 minutes against St Mirren and I didn’t feel too bad, you gain a bit of confidence from that. Even guys with broken legs would try to get back on the training pitch for this one, although I think the cars are my fault!
“The club followed all the correct protocols and I followed all the ones I was told to. I think the club are just a bit nervous about another situation like that. It’s definitely strange parking with your own car ahead of a final but this is the world we are living in”
Reilly is aware of the strange nature of his season personally but it would all be worth it if he added a League Cup winners’ medal to his winning haul: “It’s been a bizarre season for a number of reasons. Chopping and changing in the middle of a season with everything that has been going has been strange.
“But at the end of the day, there’s still trophies and points to be won. Nobody is going to ask you if you played at Hampden in front of 50,000 folk, they are going to ask ‘have you have played in a cup final at Hampden?’ If I am lucky enough to play, it will be the biggest game of my career.
“I played Rangers in a play-off match with Queen of the South six or seven years ago. I also won the Ramsdens Cup but the League Cup is definitely bigger than that! The big clubs aren’t in the final and it’s credit to Livingston and St Johnstone for getting there but hopefully it’s us that win it.
“If we do win it, it will be my biggest achievement in my career. I have won two leagues in my career but cup finals are different. You might only get one chance to do it so regardless of circumstances, I’ll enjoy every moment of it.”
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