Morgyn Neill is eager to be part of a promotion challenge at Cove Rangers – after getting too used to survival battles.
Neill was unveiled at Cove yesterday after signing a three-year deal with the ambitious Aberdeen club, who missed out on promotion from League One in the play-offs this season.
The centre-back first heard of Cove’s interest after his Dumbarton side were beaten 1-0 at the Balmoral Stadium earlier this year. Cove assistant manager Gordon Young was also Neill’s youth coach during his days in the Motherwell academy.
Neill said: “On the Sunday (after the 1-0 game), Youngy gave me a message to say the gaffer wanted me on board. I was still a Dumbarton player and had to concentrate on their games.
“I met Paul (Hartley) a couple of weeks ago and it was a no-brainer. I know Youngy well – he’s from Motherwell, the same as me – and he’d had me since I was eight-year-old at Motherwell.
“He’s been totally honest with me and is someone I really respect. When I was younger I had a lot of interest; I was going down to Man Utd as a young boy and a lot of clubs wouldn’t have let you.
“He was up front when clubs approached Motherwell to speak to me, like when Chris McCart tried to take me to Celtic.
“Once I spoke to Paul, I said: ‘I want to be part of something that’s going up’. That’s no disrespect to Dumbarton, but I don’t just want to stay in the league.
“I’m 25, I’m experienced and I’ve played a lot of games. I’ve played in the Championship and been full-time. I’ve won this league with Livingston. I know what it takes to win this league and I know what it takes to stay in this league.”
Neill started his career with the Steelmen before moving on to Livingston in 2015. He was part of their League One title-winning side, alongside current Scotland defender Declan Gallagher, before leaving for Stranraer in 2017.
A season at Stenhousemuir followed before he joined the Sons in 2019. Dumbarton avoided relegation from the third tier in the play-offs, defeating Edinburgh City over two legs.
Neill added: “I’d done my job – I’d help keep Dumbarton in the league. Sometimes you need to move on and I feel I should be in a team challenging for this league.
“That’s my ambition. I want to be in the Championship, especially at Cove.
“My mind was made up to join Cove, but Stevie Farrell, who used to be my manager at Stranraer, got the job at Dumbarton and I knew he would try and phone me to keep me on board.
“But he knew about Cove. He told me I should sign with Cove before he got the Dumbarton job.
“Once I told Dumbarton I was moving on they respected that and I think they knew I deserved something better.”
The 25-year-old scooped the Dumbarton player of the year award, alongside Ryan McGeever, but is eager to get going and show his new employers what he is capable of.
Neill added: “Youngy knows me better than anybody just now. He knows what I’m capable of doing; first and foremost I’ll defend, I’ll put my head through a brick wall. I’ll support my players no matter what.
“I’ll win everything, I’ll tackle everything, I’ll throw myself at everything. But at the same time I’m learning. I want to be part of a team that dictates the ball.
“They just missed out in the play-offs against Airdrie, but, from what I watched, they were the better team. The calibre of players – (Fraser) Fyvie, big Rory (McAllister), Mitch (Megginson), (Ryan) Strachan – are boys I’ve played against for a good few years now.
“The good thing is they keep the same squad. There’s not a turnover – you’ve seen at other clubs where you could be getting 10 new faces every season.
“It’s an opportunity I’m really looking forward to.”