The photographs in this article have been provided to us by Elgin City Football Club with prior written approval.
Written by Colin Byiers
Elgin City striker, Kane Hester, has been attracting the attention of clubs in the Scottish Championship and League 1 this year after netting 8 times in 11 matches before the suspension of football in League’s 1 and 2.
The 25-year-old spoke with me recently about his career so far and the plans for the future.
Firstly Kane, who were your idols growing up?
I have to go for Lee Trundle at Swansea City. He’s the guy I loved to watch when I was growing up. I could never do the things that he could do, but he’s someone I always looked up to. He plays a different style than me, but I just think he’s a tremendous player.
You started out at Arbroath Victoria, how was that as a learning curve?
I was playing pub league football, mucking about with my pals, then I went straight into Arbroath Victoria and did really well. They gave me a really good steppingstone to go senior. I didn’t really know much about the gave as such. I was just playing for the fun of it. I was happy playing juniors with my pals and enjoying it. I never even thought that I could get a move to a senior club, even though I was playing well and scoring lots of goals. It didn’t occur to me that I could do this as a career.
How did the move to Arbroath come about?
My manager called me one day and said that Arbroath were wanting to take me in and a week later I was signed. I was on trail for a week and signed on the Friday morning, then on the Friday night I scored in the cup against Dundee United, so I think I got off to a good start!
Your debut was against Hearts in the League Cup when you came off the bench. What were your memories of that?
My memory of that was going up for a header to score but big Martin Grehan got there before me and scored! Honestly, it was quite scary, because I walked into Tynecastle, and it was amazing. It’s an impressive stadium. The stands are straight up from the lines and it was very different for me, from playing juniors to playing in front of a big crowd. It was a massive learning curve for me. I tried to take it in my stride, and I thought we played well that game. The manager (Todd Lumsden) didn’t really say much to me before I came on other than “score goals”! That’s all he ever wanted me to do was score goals.
You got your first goal not long after that against Clyde.
Yeah, it was in a 2-0 win. I was one of my better goals actually! It took me a wee while to get the first goal as most of my appearances were off the bench. I was at that age where I didn’t know too much about the game, but it was good coming off the bench and try to make an impact. It was kind of a relief to get that first goal, but at the same time, because I hadn’t been in senior football long, I didn’t really know what I had done. I was just happy to score.
For the next couple of seasons, most of your appearances came off the bench. Did you ever feel that your chance to establish yourself as a starter was ever coming?
To be honest, under Dick (Campbell), I knew I was never going to be an established first team player every week. I was with him that long I knew it was never going to happen. Ever time I had that opportunity to go in and do it, I played well, scored goals but he would bring someone else in instead of starting me. I got into the mentality that it would never happen, and I think that’swhy the loan moves came about, which I needed. When I was at Albion Rovers, it was all about getting game time and leading the line for a team in League 1. I really enjoyed my time there. I scored a couple of goals, and then I was recalled back to Arbroath to play, but I didn’tplay much. I had a few off the bench but that was it.
In the 2018/19 season, you started well for Arbroath, scoring 3 times in your first 5 games, but you left to join Elgin City in the January window.
I was flying at Arbroath, playing well, and then it came out of nowhere. Dick said that Elgin had come in for me and I had no hesitation because I wanted to go. I had played against them a few times, I knew who Gavin Price was, I knew a few of their players and I think it was the right move for me. To be honest though, I feel like I didn’t have a good 6 months there. I scored 2 on my debut, then the week after that, I missed a sitter against Albion Rovers. For the next few months, I felt like I couldn’t kick a ball. I wasn’t taking chances, I wasn’t creating chances and it just wasn’t a great 6 months. I went away in the summer and worked really hard to prepare for the next season and I think it benefitted me a lot. I don’t think I worked myself hard enough in that first 6 months. I didn’t take it as serious as I could have done.
You teamed up with Shane Sutherland last season, a partnership that helped you get 19 goals.
That was massive for me, getting Shane back. He was amazing to play with and he gave me a lot and created a lot for me. Guys like Shane and Bobby (Linn at Arbroath) speak to you all the time, but also guys like Steven Doris and Bryan Prunty, I played with them, and they taught me a lot as well, just by talking through things on the park, you learn so much from them. Since Shane left, I’ve had to change my game slightly and learn on my own as I am now up front on my own now. I think Shane deserved his move, just because of his record, with all the goals and assists. He deserved it more than anyone.
This season, you have started well even without Shane there. How have you adapted to him not being there?
Knowing the players now has helped. Players like Russell Dingwall will give you a lot if you play off of him. I’ve worked hard myself, and I have gotten a lot fitter, a lot quicker and stronger and I feel like it has done me the world of good. I know there’s been some speculation about other clubs, and I’ll take it on board and listen to what people say but, at the end of the day, I play for Elgin and I can’t let things get to me. I have to keep scoring goals and play well because if you let it get to you, then you’ll end up off the track and end up not playing well. I’m contracted until 2023, which shows I am concentrating on nothing but my football at Elgin. Part-time football right now is ideal for me. I mean it’shard work sometimes leaving work early, and the late nights and early mornings, but full-time football is something I aspire to do. Speaking to the gaffer, my main focus is playing well for Elgin. I am contracted to Elgin and I can’t think about anything else and unless he thinks it’s best for me.
Elgin finished 3rd last season and are doing well this season. What’s the ambitions for the season?
The ambition has to be going for the title. We are only 5 points behind the leaders, and it would be stupid if that’s not out ambition. We have to go for the title and get into League 1. The play-off is the minimum target or it’s a bad season. The club’s goal is to get into League 1, and they’ll do anything to get there. It’s a bit tough for them finding players, but they have a really good group of north players and a good pick of the south boys, so they do well. Gavin has kept the same team for roughly 3 years now and has kept most of the boys which is a big factor. Keeping the same players attracts more players.