THE pain in his knee was matched by the torture of missing out on Falkirk’s promotion battle last season.
But now that he is fit again and back in the side after nearly a year out, Peter Grant is determined to ensure there will be a happy ending to the current campaign.
Grant, son of the Celtic legend of the same name, suffered a cruciate ligament injury back in January and was forced to watch from afar as the Bairns came up agonisingly short in their play-off final against Kilmarnock.
They earned that shot at glory after pipping Hibs to second in the Championship and then producing a stunning late victory in the pair’s dramatic play-off semi-final.
After Grant’s first two starts since January in recent weeks, it is fitting that Hibs are Falkirk’s visitors on Saturday afternoon as Peter Houston’s men seek their first win in four matches.
And, despite the Bairns trailing nine points behind today’s opponents and 11 behind league leaders Dundee United, the defender is confident they can still go one better than last term.
He told Capital City Press: “There was nothing worse than looking at the play-offs last year knowing I wouldn’t be involved.
“Every player wants to play in games like that, whether it’s title run-ins, play-off run-ins or whatever it may be. They are massive games.
“I was the team’s biggest supporter but from a personal point of view you can’t help thinking ‘I should be playing’.
“It was tough, but we’ve got to take the disappointment from last season and turn it into a motivation, and to have it in our heads that we don’t want that disappointment again.
“We know, even against the teams that are in and amongst the relegation play-off spots in the Premiership, that we can beat anyone on our day.
“If we fine-tune ourselves and get our consistency levels back up then hopefully that will take us through to the end point in the season and hopefully over the line this time.”
Grant’s comeback came in the final two minutes of last month’s 1-1 draw with Hibs at Easter Road, when Falkirk had to play with 10 men for over an hour following Tom Taiwo’s red card.
But, after starts against Dumbarton and Dunfermline in the last two matches, the 22-year-old believes he has returned an improved player.
He added: “It was a long nine months or so out and when you’re on the sidelines for that length of time it’s pretty hard to take.
“It’s been about keeping a mental focus for me. I was always confident in what I was going to achieve at the end of it.
“I knew I was probably going to come back a better player and a stronger player, and I feel like I have – I feel like I’ve come back sharper and stronger, and physically and mentally better.
“It’s about focusing on my football, making sure that’s in the past and giving my all to Falkirk and giving us the best chance of going up this season.
“We’ll take confidence into this one. There’ll be a big crowd and we’ll try to give the fans something to get excited about.”