Jason Hill has admitted, ahead of today’s clash with Linfield, that he feared he would never play in another Big Two derby.
The versatile Glentoran star became the victim of cost-cutting measures at the Oval in the summer when he was surprisingly placed on the transfer list.
However, Hill claims that he never wants to play for any team other than the Glens and at the time vowed to fight his way back into the first team reckoning.
And that he did.
At one point he wasn’t even given a squad number, but, after hard work and dedication and a surprising call-up into a pre-season friendly with a Rangers XI, Hill showed everyone at the club what he was made of.
Now, having also overcome a couple of niggling injuries, including a broken thumb, the north-Belfast man is aiming to nail down his place in the team with the types of performances that saw him win the club’s Player of the Year award two seasons ago.
But a few months back, it all looked so different.
“It (being transfer-listed) was hard to take at the time and came as a shock to me,” said Hill.
“Everyone knows what happened and it’s not something I want to look back on too much.
“The decision was made because of the money situation at the Glens, but I just didn’t want to leave.
“I had a couple of sniffs that other clubs wanted me, but it would have been too hard for me to come to the Oval and play against Glentoran.
“I did it before when I signed for Ards, but the circumstances were a little different then.
“I just wanted to stay and fight for my place and when I played in that match against Rangers it gave me a bit of belief that I could knuckle down and battle my way back into the squad at least.
“Now I am hoping to play against Linfield and I have to admit, in the summer I didn’t think I would play in another Big Two game.
“Glentoran against Linfield is the biggest game that anyone in our level of football can play in and I love being a part of that.
“It got me down a bit that it looked as though I might not get the chance again to be involved in one, but I had to get over that and just concentrate on getting back into the team.”
At the minute Hill remains on the list and the club are likely to still be open to offers for him, but the situation has changed the player’s perspective on football.
“I used to beat myself up and think about things too much, getting too far ahead of myself. Now I am just taking one match at a time, trying to do enough to just stay in the team,” he said.
“If I do that then that’s all well and good. If not, then I’ll get back to the training field and work hard again to force my way back in.
“Nobody knows what’s around the corner so now I am going out there to repay the faith that people have shown in me and hopefully help the team become champions again.”