FORMER Ross County striker Colin McMenamin says he has swapped the Scottish First Division for the eighth tier in England – because the game north of the border is “dead”.
The well-travelled hitman has signed a full-time deal with ambitious Northern League Division One side Celtic Nation.
And he says the ambition shown by the tiny Cumbrian club, formerly Gillford Park, outweighed anything he saw in Scotland.
McMenamin and his new side will compete in Northern League Division One this season against teams including Bedlington Terriors, Morpeth Town and Whitley Bay.
But thanks to backing from Glaswegian owner Frank Lynch the club has a five-year plan to reach the Football League.
And playing even a small part in that journey was enough to convince McMenamin to switch after becoming disillusioned with Scottish football.
He said: “The game in Scotland is dead as there is no money and the move to Celtic Nation is something really different for me.
“I had options to stay in Scotland but spoke to the chairman at Celtic Nation back in April and he sold the project to me. They are looking to get promoted to the Football League in five years’ time and have a plan in place which excites me.
“All the chat in Scotland was ‘we will give you a year and we will try to do this and try and do that’.
“I have heard it all before and to be honest I need a new challenge.
“I spoke to a few guys who have gone part-time in Scotland this summer because they can’t afford to continue living off the full time wages being offered in the First Division.
“And in terms of the football I have finished second in the First Division three times and got nothing for it.
“I know the play-offs are coming in now but even then it’s probably geared towards the team who finish second bottom of the top flight.
“Five years ago the game was booming and clubs were paying decent wages but the excitement seems to have gone out of the game in Scotland. It’s certainly not as healthy as some people claim.”
McMenamin isn’t naive to the dangers of clubs outspending their means. He’s seen the devastation caused by administration twice – at Gretna and Dundee where he was one of 15 players made redundant three years ago.
But he said: “Celtic Nation is not another Gretna. This club is not throwing stupid money down a cul-de-sac.
“There will be stories and rumours doing the rounds but the owners have a structure in place and a five-year plan which looks safe to me.”
McMenamin’s career has almost gone full circle now as he teams up with two old bosses at Celtic Nation - David Irons and Mick Wadsworth.
And he admits he wouldn’t have made the move had it not been for the duo.
He said: “I would never have been a professional footballer had it not been for Davie.
“He nurtured me as a boy at Annan which ultimately led to me being signed by Newcastle along with Ryan McGuffie.
“I worked with Mick who was Bobby Robson’s coach at Newcastle and I worked with him again at Shrewsbury a few years later.
“He is a good manager and highly regarded in Carlisle which is why I’ve high hopes for this club and one of the main reasons I signed.”
The boyhood Celtic supporter revealed he was looking forward to donning his new side’s kit.
He said: “Another reason is the chance to pull on the green and white hoops ... because this is about as close as I’ll get to playing for Celtic!”
Ex Queens star Willie Gibson has also signed up at Gillford Park on a short term contract.