BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Joe Mbu insists helping Edinburgh City make Scottish football history would be his greatest achievement in the game as he prepares to hang up his boots at the end of this season.
The 34-year-old has already starred in league football, enjoying five years with Cowdenbeath and playing a major role in their rise to the Championship.
Emerging from the youth academy at Hibs, Mbu also turned out for Stenhousemuir and East Fife and was named in PFA Scotland’s Second Division team of the year in 2012.
However, the towering defender reckons he will have saved the best for last if City finish the job against Cove Rangers today and go on to defeat East Stirlingshire over two legs to secure a spot in League Two.
Nevertheless, the prospect of reprising those midweek treks to Elgin and Annan holds no appeal as the family man settles down with his partner Janice and new-born son Mason.
“I’ll definitely be hanging my boots up at the end of this season,” said the big defender. “I’m feeling the pace a little bit and getting the odd niggle here and there, it’s definitely time for me to move on.
“I want to spend more time with my family. However, I’m determined to go out on a high. If I can play my part in Edinburgh City, who have a talented, young group of boys, to get to League Two I can sit back and say ‘mission accomplished’.
“I’ve done the hard miles in League Two, League One and the Championship and I have some great memories with clubs like Cowdenbeath, but it’s not something I’ll be committing to again.
“Promotion would be the perfect way to end my career. I was considering my future before I joined City [in 2014] but I have loved every minute of my time here and to win two title has been special.
“The club deserves to take the next step. It has a great community feel, it has plenty of talents coming through the ranks and there would be so much potential for growth as an SPFL club. We are really hungry to make that happen.
“It would be up there with the best achievements in my career and I’d say it would be the sweetest.”
Should City become the first club to ever win promotion to the SPFL through the playoffs, Mbu’s pride will be swelled by a feeling that they have overcome a fundamentally unfair system.
While the bottom club in the Premiership, Championship and League One are all automatically relegated, the team which finishes at the foot of League Two have an opportunity to save their skin by facing the winner of the Lowland-Highland League playoff.
That is what happened last season when Montrose defeated Brora Rangers – and Mbu reckons it is a ‘joke’.
“So much counts against you trying to get out of the Lowland League and the Highland League,” said Mbu candidly.
“The playoff system is designed to make it as hard as possible for the Highland and Lowland teams to get into the SPFL, with them having to play each other and then face the bottom team in League Two, that it is a wee bit of a joke.
“The team that finishes bottom of League Two should be automatically relegated in my opinion. But that will only make it more memorable if we can get up.”
It would take an almighty collapse for the Meadowbank men to throw away their advantage in the capital today, having claimed a 3-0 triumph in the away leg at Harlaw Park last Saturday.
However, Mbu – preparing to let the curtain come down on his career – has been around long enough to realise the tie is anything but over.
“We hold a three-goal advantage so it would be foolish to say anything other than we are heavy favourites,” acknowledged Mbu. “But if we don’t perform or we drop our levels then that lead could soon disappear.”