BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
THE path to promotion isn’t an exact science – but Brechin boffin Paul McLean is adamant the Hedgemen are ready go under the microscope in Alloa.
The Glebe Park captain is a one-man argument against the notion that footballers are universally daft, combining his playing duties in Angus with a successful career at the cutting edge of medical research.
McLean, 27, is a key part of the Molecular Pathology Department at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, aiding the study and diagnosis of disease by analysing molecules in organs and tissues.
However, his only concern today is ensuring Brechin find a cure for fatigue to realise their Championship dream.
“I work in the labs at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh. The boys are all convinced I’m doing stuff with dodgy samples, but it’s all above board,” he laughed. “I don’t think they realise that I actually do a serious job.
“I used to do nightshifts and back-shifts, which was really tough combined with training, but thankfully I got a promotion and was able to go back to nine-to-five, that has been a great help. Work have been really accommodating.
“People don’t expect footballers to have a brain in their heads, so you get a few funny looks when you say you have a job like this.
“Having said that, you still get the same pelters in there. I’ve never had a text after winning, but you miss one penalty in the shootout at Raith and I had about 24 text messages laughing at me.
“You’d expect medical staff to be a bit more professional!”
McLean’s exertions away from the pitch are mirrored throughout the squad, with Darren Dods’ tireless part-timers belying their day jobs to play 300 minutes in seven days and still take a 1-0 lead into the second leg against the Wasps.
“You’ve got boys playing, not getting home until 1 a.m., then up for work at 7 a.m.,” continued McLean. “It’s all about rest and recovery, especially after extra-time at Raith. It’s about one last massive effort.
“You can’t blame the boys for saying ‘we want our summer holidays holiday!’ But we want to be on the beach knowing we are a Championship club.”
Should any additional motivation be required, it will come from Brechin’s desire to prove their doubters wrong, once and for all.
They narrowly avoided relegation from League 1 last season but have produced an incredible reversal of fortunes this term to challenge for the most unlikely of promotions. However, the assumption that, at some point, they will revert to their travails of last term have not gone unnoticed.
“People keep writing us off,” McLean continued. “Maybe there’s a feeling that we shouldn’t be up where we are, but we’ll try to keep proving those people wrong. That gives you a wee extra spur.”
On the books at Glebe Park since 2009, McLean added: “I’ve loved every season here and feel so privileged to be captain. To go up would be unbelievable, but the staff, the board and the fans deserve it.”