Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Collins Is Light Years Away from Hedge of Darkness

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Collins Is Light Years Away from Hedge of Darkness

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Hidden behind a hedge, the Brechin supporters lay in wait. Identifying Dumbarton's emerging defender as their chosen target, the Glebe Park faithful rehearsed their finest taunts one final time. The unsuspecting Neill Collins never had a chance.

"A ground like Brechin is difficult to forget," recalled a player glad to see the back of one of Scottish football's less salubrious venues. "People ask me if I have struggled to adapt to big stadiums and big crowds but, if I'm honest it's a relief.

"Along one side of Glebe Park there's just a big hedge yards from the touchline and that's where the hard core fans stand. You see them massing at the start and it was a really tough place to go to. It was an eye-opener and quite intimidating.

"I would rather have Breeny and the gaffer shouting at me than idiots on the sidelines. To hear them telling me I'm doing this right or wrong is better than hearing a volley of verbal abuse from fans right in your face.

"There's no real lasting memory of someone shouting one specific thing towards me. It was just that when I was with Dumbarton I would hear any groan that came my way. When you are playing at that level you can hear most little things.

"There was much more interaction with the supporters ( good and bad.

"Here, although there's probably more than 20 times the number of fans, you don't really hear them. It's more a blur and you don't notice individuals at all."

Perhaps Collins is missing out on deserved praise ( those same individuals have already taken the cultured Scot to their hearts during his short stay on Wearside. Boasting a cool head and positional sense beyond his 21 years, another of Mick McCarthy's most astute purchases has already taken the considerable leap from Scottish football to the Championship stage in his stride. …

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