TWO goals in Sunday’s East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final would see Zander Murray overtake Stuart Noble’s club record of 25-goals in a single season. But the on-form striker is more interested in bringing the trophy back to Netherdale than having his name in the history books.

Murray started his career at Motherwell and Partick Thistle before a serious injury forced him to give up the game on medical advice.

Border Telegraph: Zander Murray in action for Gala Fairydean Rovers Zander Murray in action for Gala Fairydean Rovers

After missing out for more than three years, he started playing 5-a-sides without any ill effect and after a spell in the Juniors he joined Gala in 2019.

Since then he has become a fans favourite at Netherdale with his competitive style and eye for a goal.

He told the Border Telegraph: “Personally it’s been a really good season for me and the chairman (Ryan Cass) told me that I’m just two goals away from breaking Stuart Noble’s record. Coincidentally a lot of people say that I remind them of Stuart, but it’s not about that, it’s about winning the cup for the people at the club. I know many of them are emotional about us being in the final, so we all want to win the trophy for them.

“I genuinely don’t think out league position show our quality as a team. We’ve been hit by injuries through the spine of the side. Losing Ben Herdman in the first game of the season was massive for us and the same for Jack Beaumont and Daryl Healy and others and that’s affected our league position although we did have some good performances against the top sides.

“Beating Rangers with me scoring and setting one up was extra special being a Celtic fan, and we also gave Celtic two hard games home and away.

“But we seem to have saved the real magic for the cup, such as beating Bonnyrigg Rose 5-1 and the 4-4 draw with Kinnoull. I thought I’d scored the winner in the 119th minute and was booked for taking my top off when celebrating but they equalised and took it to penalties. I am the club’s penalty taker, so I took the first and scored and thankfully we went through to the final.”

Border Telegraph: Gala Fairydean Rovers players celebrate after another Zander Murray goalGala Fairydean Rovers players celebrate after another Zander Murray goal

Gala now face a strong Linlithgow side who only narrowly missed out on winning the East of Scotland Premier Division title and Murray knows that it will be a tough task.

“Linlithgow are a fallen giant” he continued: “but they have had a resurgence this year. They are a big club who attract big crowds so Sunday will be a tough task as I know a few of their players. But we’ve proved that if we can play to our ability, we can be a match for anyone. I’ve played at Penicuik a few times and know the pitch. It’ll be good to play on the grass again.”

Former manager Neil Hastings brought Murray to the club and the striker wasn’t surprised to see him leave for the Premiership, but he is more than happy with his replacement Martin Scott.

“Neil is a fantastic coach, and I always knew he would go on to bigger things. He has an aura about him and commands the room, but I really enjoy playing under Jimmy (Martin Scott). He is still a quality player and I loved playing alongside him as he sees my runs. He’s another one that we’ve missed because of injury.

“It was a no brainer to sign an extension to my contract and I’m really looking forward to next season, particularly playing in front of the fans in the stand and on the new pitch although the Lowland League is getting harder with Tranent coming up and Cowdenbeath dropping down but I’m sure there are exciting times ahead for Gala.”

 Gala Fairydean were previously in a final in 2002 and have not lifted a trophy since 1998 although Gala Rovers were consistent trophy winners before the two clubs merged in 2013.

As a result of being in the final, Gala will travel to play League One side Kelty Hearts in the semi-final of the City Cup which will be played next season.

Gala Fairydean Rovers are running a free supporters’ bus to Penicuik this Sunday. Admission prices to the final are £10 adults and £5 concessions.

Due to the final, the clubrooms will be closed this Sunday during the day but will open at 6p.m. if the cup is brought back to Netherdale.