CAMMY GILL was in with the bricks at Dunfermline Athletic but he now has the chance to cement himself as his new club’s number one.

It has been many years in the making but the 23-year-old is now ready to be recognised as first choice for the first time in his playing career.

Having “fought for every minute” he could grab at the Pars, Gill has now penned a one-year-deal with Cowdenbeath and he believes it is a “match made in heaven”.

The decision brings more than a decade at East End Park to a close, having joined the club as just a 10-year-old boy willing to learn and dreaming of playing in the black and white.

He achieved that feat in 2017 as he made his Pars bow in a Scottish Cup outing to Buckie Thistle, emerging from the bench and keeping out the Highland League hopefuls.

Unfortunately for Gill, he broke through from the youth academy and had to battle with the likes of Sean Murdoch, David Hutton, Ryan Scully and, latterly, Lee Robinson and Owain Fon-Williams, for a starting berth over the years.

Their presence proved invaluable in terms of learning but the youngster was never able to displace any of them for a lengthy period, resulting in his Pars career totalling 19 appearances across all competitions.

Now with Cowdenbeath, he could achieve that total by January should he feature in all the club’s cup ties and league fixtures.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Press Sport, Gill’s sense of joy at being snapped up by the Blue Brazil cannot be understated.

Beaming ear-to-ear, the stopper couldn’t hide his excitement and is relishing the prospect of playing competitive football, on a Saturday, every week.

“I’m over the moon,” he admitted.

“I’ve been trying to get something like this for years.

“When I was at Dunfermline, I made it clear that I was after a loan move so I could get game time. That never came about (other than an appearance-less spell at Arbroath), so I was stuck in that middle ground of not playing games and not being able to get out on loan.

“I was stuck. It was like that for three years.

“This is different for me and I think this is going to be a huge year for me and Cowden. I spoke to Gary Bollan and he seems brilliant as well, so I cannot wait to get started. This move is a great fit.

“I need games. I think that’s blatantly obvious and I think most Dunfermline fans would be saying the same thing. I’ve not had enough games for a 23-year-old.

“You touched on the fact that Cowdenbeath in recent years have had a number of goalkeepers in and out of the team because of loans and injuries, and that’s why I think they struggled last season because they never really had that set number one who would play every game. This is why this move is a match made in heaven.

“I cannot stress enough to you how excited I am for this season.

“Knowing that I have this opportunity to play every week, it’s some feeling! It’s a feeling that I’ve never experienced before.”

Telling his family that he would be moving from full-time to part-time football was met with initial trepidation but that soon dissipated as they heard him speak with such enthusiasm about the switch.

"Everyone can tell by my voice,” Gill said.

“My family don’t know football all that well so they were a little worried when I told them that I was going part-time. My mum and some of the family were worried about my income and stuff like that but I have absolutely no fear about any of that.

“I’ve now been able to calm my mum and granny down as they can tell how buzzing I am about this.”

The aforementioned lack of game time proved to be a major catalyst for his East End exit and after the club’s play-off defeat to Raith Rovers, his mind was made up about where his future lay.

“I remember coming in to speak with Stevie (Crawford) when everyone had come in to say their goodbyes for the season after the play-off games against Raith and he asked me what I was thinking ahead of next season,” Gill recalled.

“I just told him that I needed games, it was as simple as that. It was left at that and I was waiting for a phone call but then it came out that Craw had left the club.

“At that point I started thinking to myself that there’s going to be a new manager coming into the club that will have a number one already in place for them – Fonners (Owain Fon Williams) – that has been doing brilliantly for the club, and me as the club’s number two.

“I thought to myself, ‘Is he going to come in and decide that I’m the club’s new number one having only played 15 games for the club at that level?’.

“I knew that I could quite easily be in the same position as last season.

“It was before Peter Grant was announced that I told the club I was going to sign for Cowdenbeath.

“It’s been on my mind for some time that next season was going to be make or break for me.

“There’s only so much sitting on the bench on a Saturday that you can take before it really starts to get to you. It’s a hard place to be.

“I needed that change but it was a tough decision to make.

“I have so many memories from my time at the club and met so many great people and friends but I made the decision that if I ever wanted to do something worthwhile in my career, the time had to be now before it passes me by.”

He continued: “The lack of game time has held me back, there’s no question about that.

“With every season, I’ve always known what I had to do and work on but I was fighting for every minute I could. Even last season, I know a number of people, myself included, that were a little gutted that I never got to play as many minutes as I would have liked.

“I tried to get the most out of it and I loved the training with Fonners (Owain Fon Williams). Monday to Friday was fabby for me, it really was. I always tried to make the most out of every session and take in what he (Fonners) was giving me. I think that is what my attitude was to training in general. Even in the 11-versus-11 matches in training I was looking to treat that as an actual game to show what I could do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing the club, manager or Fonners justice. I was plugging away just looking to stay fit in case I was needed and picking up as much as I could from Fonners, Westy (Dave Westwood, goalkeeping coach) and all the other coaches I’ve worked with during my time at Dunfermline; I don’t even think I could name you them all!

“I’d been at Dunfermline for 12 years and it’s crazy to think about all the people I’ve met during that time. I’d be there for hours trying to recall the backroom staff, the groundsmen, Mojo (Mo Hutton), Ian Kirk who does the kits, some of the stadium announcers; there’s so many people, faces and aspects of the club I’ve seen change.

“I remember when I was 10-years-old, and when the club were in the SPL, I would run up the stand to get myself a sausage roll at half-time. I could walk you through that stadium from back to front. I knew it inside and out – even all the vennels at the back of the stands – before I was a teenager.”

His family were in the stands when he made his Dunfermline league debut during the 2018/19 season against Inverness, which remains one of his two best memories of his time at the club with the other being the 1-0 win at Ayr United that same season where Gill pulled off a handful of late saves, including a stunning one-handed stop to deny Ross Docherty’s goalbound header.

Moments like that, however, proved to be few and far between as chances to impress were limited.

While stating that he could have performed better in some games, he felt that his contributions to the team were worthy of a sustained spell between the sticks.

“ I may be speaking out of turn here and I’ll apologise now for it but as a younger keeper, who came through the academy, maybe I was an easy player to drop from the team?

“When I did play, I actually thought I did quite well. I remember having to rely on injuries – like when Sculls (Ryan Scully) got concussion away to Stranraer in the Scottish Cup (November 2019) – or a loss of form to get into the team. That meant I was always coming in on a negative and the onus was on me to turn it into a positive.

“After Sculls got injured against Stranraer, I played the next three games and we won all three. I was then dropped for the next five games and we lost all five. After that fifth defeat, I came in and we won 2-0 before getting dropped again. I think that’s when Fonners (Fon Williams) signed and I didn’t play again that season because he was playing so well and the league had to finish quickly.

“It’s hard when that happens but it is what it is, I suppose. I tried everything I could but I felt that this season ahead would have been the exact same. Joining Cowden was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

His first game with his new employers will be a Fife derby as Cowdenbeath host Raith Rovers in the Premier Sports Cup on Saturday, July 10.

He hopes it will be the first of many in a long season which, ultimately, he has one long-term goal in mind for.

“I just want to enjoy my football again,” he said.

“This is going to be my first season, since reserve football, that I’m going to be a club’s first-choice. It’s a new challenge for me.

“I have to keep the jersey from whomever the back-up will be.

“This is new territory for me in terms of having to defend the jersey instead of looking to win it and keep it. I want to play as many games as I can and be as consistent as I can.

“This is my time to prove to everyone that I have what it takes.”

As an extension to that, the Edinburgh-based Gill will continue to coach the goalkeepers of tomorrow through the #1 Goalkeeping Academy, which he founded in 2018 and has sessions based at Pitreavie.

Of the academy, he stated: “I was able to train during the day and coach at night when I was at Dunfermline.

“Now, with me being part-time, I’ll be training two nights a week and that limits me to three nights of coaching.

“It means I’ll be able to devote time throughout the day to sessions and structure.

“With COVID, I wasn’t allowed to coach last season as the club had very strict rules on restrictions, and understandably so; I would have been a potential risk by teaching kids that were going to school.

“I couldn’t coach, which was a bit of a bummer, but we got through that stage and I’m delighted to be down at Pitreavie teaching the kids again.

“I actually got a lot of lovely messages from parents and kids who were looking forward to seeing me play at Cowden. That was really nice.

“It’s been running for a few years now and I love it so much.

“A few people were worried that I was going to be stopping the academy but I told them that there was absolutely zero chance of that happening – it’s my pride and joy!”

In the hours spent away from either playing or coaching football this coming season, time on the golf course will be a natural escape, he says.

“I’ve just bought myself a set of clubs and I am absolutely horrendous,” he laughed.

“If I had a handicap, it would be about 40 or 50.

“I swear to God man, I am hopeless.

“I’m going to keep playing until I can beat my dad. He’s decent but his back is beginning to go so I may just have a chance!

“Membership prices are through the roof and I thought buying the clubs was the dear part?!

“I was talking to Callum Smith as I played with him a few weeks ago and I think he may be a member at Cowdenbeath so I may play with him there soon.

“There’s a lot of good times for me to look forward to now."