Danny Grainger on reaching 350 career startsClub captain Danny Grainger made his 350th career start in the 2-0 victory over Colchester United on Saturday so we took the opportunity to talk to him about what it meant to reach that milestone at his home town club.
“I’m delighted,” he said. “If someone had offered me that at 16-years-old I’d have snapped their hands off. Hopefully I’ve got a few more appearances left in the old legs yet!
“It’s absolutely flown by, to be honest, and it’s crazy really. It feels like about two minutes ago when I was walking through the doors at Gretna to start my YTS. I think it’s one of those things that I won’t realise how much I’ll miss it until it all stops.
“I don’t think it ever sinks in properly that we’re doing what every young lad wants to do. For the lads in the dressing room football is all we’ve ever known. We’re very privileged and blessed to be able to do it.”
When it came to career choices, there were only ever two options as far as the Penrith-born left back was concerned.
“I was either going to be a footballer or a farmer,” he confirmed. “That was all I was ever interested in as a kid. It was only ever going to be one of those two options because I was never the brightest lad.
“I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and I’d like to think I’ve earned a lot of respect on my way through. Having said that, you can’t rest on your laurels in football. You’ve got to keep going. You can’t take a backward step or slow down for even one minute or it leaves you behind.”
With his formative years and early career being spent north of the border, with spells at Gretna, Brechin, Dundee United, St Johnstone, Hearts, St Mirren and Dunfermline to look back on, we wondered if the move to play in England had been something he had wanted to achieve.
“It was a big thing for me to be able to come and play English football because it’s something I always wanted to do,” he commented. “I also never made a secret of the fact I always wanted to play for Carlisle United, ever since I was a boy. When I stood in the Warwick watching the matches I always said I wanted to play for the club at some point during my career. I’m delighted that I’m doing it now.
“I actually spoke to Greg [Abbott] about coming down here a couple of years before I actually did. I had an option to go to Blackpool and train with them for a few weeks at the same time and Greg pushed me in that direction because they were in a higher division.
“He was fantastic with me because he told me I had to go and try it. He kept me in the loop with what was happening here and he phoned me and told me he had the chance to sign Conor Townsend again, which was what he was going to do. I respected his decision and I was grateful he gave me the option to come and train here, but I also appreciated the fact that he wanted to see me push myself on with Blackpool.
“I obviously stayed up in Scotland and when I finally did get the call from Kav [Graham Kavanagh] and Davie Irons, it was something I couldn’t wait to get signed. It went well but I do feel like a different type of player now than I was when I first came here.
"When I was up in Scotland I was playing and enjoying it and taking it as it came. Down here I’ve taken a different role on and I’ve enjoyed the responsibility of being captain.
“I try to push things through in training. If things aren’t right I try to get them right, and I work closely with the manager and the staff. It’s been fantastic but it’s easy coming into this dressing room. It’s one of the easiest dressing rooms I’ve been in. The lads are fantastic - the young lads can take the mick out of the older players and vice-versa. We all get on so well.”
In part two of this interview, on the official website on Tuesday morning, we talk to Danny about his part in one of the biggest Edinburgh derby games ever played and what it means to him to wear the captain’s armband here with Carlisle United.