Posted by z on 13/5/2019, 12:21:06
A tale of two Shinnies in England’s second tier next term after Andrew wins promotion with Luton |
LARGELY unnoticed compared to the frenzied speculation over Graeme Shinnie’s future in recent months, his footballing sibling has been quietly chalking up another productive season and adding another medal to his collection.
With the Aberdeen captain finally confirming he will be leaving Pittodrie for Derby County in the summer, big brother Andy heads into the close season on the back of winning promotion for a third season in a row.
The elder Shinnie (below) hasn’t always endured the happiest of times since moving to Birmingham City from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2013 but in recent years has alighted at clubs where he has been able make a real difference.
He joined up with Neil Lennon in 2016 to help Hibernian escape the Championship at the third attempt, before moving to Luton Town on loan in 2017. There had been initial reluctance to sign for a club
seemingly stuck in the confines of League Two but they assured him their sights were set on reaching the Championship in two giant leaps.
That vision has now been realised. Shinnie helped Luton win promotion last season before signing a permanent deal and playing a significant role as the Hatters went one better by winning the League One title last weekend.
It sees the former Dundee player return to the English Champ-ionship for the first time since a short spell with Rother-ham United three years ago, but that isn’t the extent of either his or Luton’s ambition.
“Three in a row isn’t too bad an achievement and hopefully we can maybe get a fourth promotion next year,” he says, only half joking, as Luton prepare to move forward under Graeme Jones, the former St Johnstone, Clyde and Hamilton striker appointed recently as their new manager.
“This has been another enjoyable season although it does come with a lot of pressure, especially towards the end when we were trying to get over the line. We were top of the table from January so people expected us to go up but you still need to get it done. So getting promotion and then adding the league title was terrific and also a bit of a relief.
“Given we had just come up from League Two, if someone had said at the start of the year we’d make the play-offs we would probably have been happy with that. So to go on to win the title we’ve probably far exceeded what a lot of people would have expected of us this season, especially when you consider the calibre of some of the other clubs in that division.
“I was gutted to leave the Championship before as it’s a good level to play at so I’m glad to be getting the chance to play there again. I’ve had to go back to move forward in my career but I’ve worked hard to get to this point. There’s a lot more football played in the Championship and that suits my style.”
Shinnie approaches his 30th birthday in July in a good place. Life in leafy Hertford-shire is good – he, his partner and dog have just bought a house in the area – and he feels settled after earlier years of uncertainty.
“This has been one of the best seasons of my career so far,” he said. “I’ve moved back from playing as a number 10 and from that deeper midfield role I’ve been able to dictate play a lot more. I’m on the ball more, starting attacks and can time my runs a lot better. I’ve kind of fallen into this role but I’m really enjoying it.
“It’s been up and down for me since coming to England, and there have been some really hard times too when I wasn’t playing. But I’ve worked hard this season and it has paid dividends. And off the field I feel settled and happy at the club.
“I wasn’t sure initially about going to play in League Two but I met the old manager [Nathan Jones, now at Stoke City] and he was very impressive. He put on a Powerpoint
presentation, spoke about how he saw me fitting in to his plans and I was sold. He said he was recruiting with a view to reaching League One and then the Championship and we’ve managed to achieve that in just two seasons.
“I’ve bought a house in Hitchen with my missus and the dog and got a couple of years left on my deal at Luton so it’s all going well.”
Calls from the Scotland camp, however, remain noticeable only by their absence. Shinnie’s solitary cap came in 2012 when Billy Stark selected him for the friendly in Luxembourg and there is no huge expectation that he will go on to earn more.
“I don’t mind not getting a call,” he said. “There’s been a bit of negativity about results recently but it’s a good squad. It’s hard to break into that when you’re playing in League One and Two. If I got back in I’d be delighted as I’d love to play for my country again. But it’s not in the forefront of my mind right now.”
For a while it looked as if Graeme might be joining him at Luton but Derby’s offer proved too tempting.
“Big Mick [Harford, Luton’s former interim manager] had been on at me to try to get him to come to the club but Graeme always had other options,” he said. “It would be
brilliant if we could play together again at some point as we had some great years up at Inverness but that might not be for a few years now.
“It was a tough decision for Graeme as he’s loved at Aberdeen and gets on really well with the manager. But he’s getting a bit older now so he’s got to do what’s right for him and his family. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it down here as it’s a great place to play.”