AFTER four frustrating years at Queens Park Rangers, Basingstoke footballer Rowan Vine is enjoying a resurgence with St Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League.
The 30-year-old began his career at Portsmouth, but it was at Luton Town that things really took off for him, the striker’s excellent form earning him £3m move to Birmingham City in January 2007.
Things never really worked out for him at St Andrews and 18 months later he was on the move again, this time signing for QPR. Not long after signing for the west London club, Vine broke his leg, ruling him out for a year – and he never got back into first team contention, being told he had no future at the club by manager Neil Warnock in the summer of 2010.
After that, Vine endured two frustrating years, being farmed out on loan to a number of lower league clubs until his contract expired in the summer.
The striker was aware of interest from St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas last January and signed for the club when he became a free agent, after enjoying himself on a week-long trial.
“I’m enjoying it up here,” he said. “It’s a long way from home and a bit cold at the moment but I have settled in well.
“It’s great to be playing again after a long spell when I was not getting a chance. Like all footballers, I just want to play. It’s great to be competing for a place in the team because I knew I was not going to be involved at QPR.
“I’m just trying to put a run of games together. I have played the last couple of games and we have been a bit unlucky. I feel I have been doing well though and I’m getting my fitness levels up to where they should be.”
Vine grabbed the headlines in September, when he scored the winning goal as St Johnstone claimed a famous victory over the mighty Celtic.
“There was a really good atmosphere at the ground and it was brilliant to get the winner 10 minutes from time,” he said. “Celtic are the best team in Scotland but we proved that we can match them and it was great to get the goal.”
The result was St Johnstone’s first win of the season but they have improved since and currently sit sixth in the SPL table, just four points off second place.
“Second place is up for grabs to any side that puts a run together,” Vine added. “There is no reason why we cannot contend near the top of the table with the squad we have got – and finishing second would be an incredible achievement.”