FORMER Neilston favourite Darren Christie admits he jumped at the chance to make his debut in the senior ranks.

The 33-year-old striker, who played at the Brig O’Lea between 2009 and 2014, joined League Two side Annan Athletic on loan from Pollok at the end of last month.

Christie had been on loan at BSC Glasgow earlier in the campaign but, when the Lowland League was declared null and void because of the Covid pandemic, it looked like he would be left on the sidelines until next season.

Thankfully, the decision by SPFL chiefs to allow clubs in League One and Two to return to action threw him a lifeline.

Christie agreed a temporary switch to Annan for the final weeks of the 2020/21 campaign and, since arriving at the Galabank stadium, has embraced the chance to show what he can do at a higher level.

He told Barrhead Sport: “The move came out of the blue. Cammy Bell, who is director of football down there, messaged me as soon as the Lowland League was cancelled, through one of the BSC Glasgow coaches, Fraser Wright.

“It was a race against time because the loan window shut at the end of March and he only phoned me on the 30th, so it was a rush to get it all sorted.

“I wasn’t going to knock it back. I thought my chance [to play in senior football] had gone.

“That’s why I had to do it.

“I’ve started a couple of games and came on in a couple and it’s a bit more fast paced than the Lowland League, where you’ve got a lot of time on the ball.

“It took me a couple of games to get used to it.”

Christie was named Neilston’s Player of the Year three times and admits he has happy memories of his stint with the Farmer’s Boys.

His iconic goal against Shettleston in the Central District First Division to send Neilston on their way to the title is one that is still talked about by the Brig O’Lea faithful.

“I’ve got that saved on my phone,” said Christie. “That’s the main memory I have.

“A wee regret is the Cup Winners Cup final against Auchinleck Talbot, when our keeper was sent off after two minutes and we got beat 7-1.

“It was a shame because I think we could have given them a game.

“We were all buzzing after winning the league, but it wasn’t to be.”