BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Chairman Ross Anderson admits he is in no doubt that Garry O’Connor can make Selkirk a household name – because he has already been quizzed about the former Scotland forward by Rio Ferdinand.
The 32-year-old former Lokomotiv Moscow, Hibs and Birmingham City player was appointed the Lowland League outfit’s new player/manager on Sunday, just 24 hours after suffering a 5-1 defeat to Gretna 2008 as caretaker boss.
Anderson has already been taken aback by the level of interest generated from O’Connor’s promotion to the dugout and reckons that can only help both on and off the pitch.
And if former England and Manchester United defender Ferdinand knows all about Selkirk due to O’Connor, Anderson insists the striker’s new role can have an even bigger impact.
Anderson said: “For a small club, Garry has really helped raised our profile massively.
“I’m involved in business in England and I even got stopped by Rio Ferdinand at QPR’s training ground when we had football trials there a wee while back.
“I was wearing a Selkirk polo shirt and he said, ‘have you still got big O’Connor playing for you?’ How did he even know our background?
“Since we appointed him, Twitter and Facebook has gone crazy; we had 26,000 hits on social media within 14 hours.
“It really has pushed the profile of the club and we think on and off the pitch that it will help.
“We’ve got Lokomotiv Moscow followers on Twitter and Facebook, Birmingham City guys asking us abut him.
“It was a natural choice to appoint Garry, he’s been at the club for a year-and-a-half and we’ve put him through his UEFA B coaching course.
“He is well respected at the highest levels in football and for a team in the lower leagues to have someone like that leading the club can only push us forward.
“There are also the managers he’s played under that he can call on for advice and help. He’s still friends with Mixu Paatelainen there’s Alex McLeish.
“We’re excited about the prospect of Garry being here long-term. With the contacts he’s got, he will attract a very good standard of player to come to the club.”
O’Connor, who moved to Yarrow Park from Morton last summer, has attracted unsavoury headlines off the pitch in the past and has even admitted to taking cocaine, but Anderson insists he is now a role model at Selkirk.
Anderson added: “He’s well liked at the club and without a doubt he is a changed man.
“You have to remember when he had his crazy time, if you’re giving youngsters that amount of money a lot of young lads would have done the same.
“That’s going back a lot of years. He’s a changed guy, he has three great kids.
“He’s a family chap and he’s 32 now, we’re not interested in what happened in the past.
“We’re looking forward and he’s relishing helping the young lads.”