Partick Thistle and Dundee United hero on fire service training as he admits burning desire to balance new job with football return

Trainee firefighter Chris Erskine admits he has a burning desire to return to East Kilbride FC next season.

The 35-year-old from left his hometown club at Christmas to focus on his training for a future career, but he believes his football days are far from extinguished.

He yearns for a return to the field and is hoping he can reach an agreement with his new bosses at East Kilbride Fire Station which will allow him to juggle his job with football next season.

Experienced midfielder Erskine, who will be inducted into the Partick Thistle Hall of Fame at the end of the month, is due to begin his new career in earnest in May but he is keen to find a way to pull his boots back on next season.

The ex-Dundee United and Livingston star said: “The fire service training has been great. I’ve done 10 weeks now and I’ve got two weeks to go.

“I’m actually going to be working at the station in East Kilbride so that’s perfect for me and my family, being 10 minutes from the house.

“I’ve been really enjoying it.

“But in terms of my football, I still need to see how that can work with the job.

“I’ve not really been told yet and people have told me you can’t just take days off because of the shifts, you need to get people to cover you.

“Someone would need to cover me and I would need to cover them, and that would need to be every Saturday so I just need to play it by ear.

“I would like to go back to football. I’m missing a wee bit now.

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“That’s been a few months since I kicked a ball and when I went to watch my brother (Liam) the other week at St Roch’s, I had a wee buzz for a game.

“I was desperate to get the boots on so I would like to go back to it, but it’s just whether it can be accommodated in my new job.

“I would be happy to go back to East Kilbride.

East Kilbride’s Chris Erskine

“I was enjoying it there before I left and in my last few months there I felt we were playing pretty well.

“I was playing well myself also so if East Kilbride wanted me back I would be quite happy.

“That would be great but, if not, I’d play wherever.

“It will all depend on my job because that is the main thing now, pursuing my career in the fire service.”

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Erskine knows plenty of firefighters have managed the balancing act in recent years and he is currently in the same training center as one.

Former Stranraer defender Frank McKeown – now assistant manager at Dumbarton – has been helping Erskine get to grips with his new life and offered words of encouragement.

“I know there’s lots of players in the Juniors who’ve done it and not had any bother – and I know Frank McKeown, who was at Stranraer a few years back,” Erskine explained.

Frank in his day job as fireman
Frank in his day job as fireman

“I’ve bumped into him a few times in my training center and he is Dumbarton’s assistant manager.

“He played for years and said to me as long as you get guys who are in your crew and you can sort shifts, it shouldn’t be an issue.

“But I think each station works differently, so I will just need to see.

“I don’t start in the fire station until May, so that gives me time to work out how things would work before pre-season starts.

“Once I know all that, I can make a decision from there.”

Chris Erskine at Dundee United

It’s all go in the Erskine household right now, with Chris and wife Heather welcoming their second child into the world in February.

Seven-week-old baby boy Freddie joins 10-year-old sister Emily and Erskine added: “It’s back to sleepless nights and nappies now.

“It’s been some start to the year, that’s for sure, but it’s all good.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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