For Gary, who has been capped for Scotland at every level except for full international, knows Livingston can’t afford to gift points to any of the teams round about them in the league.
“It’s important to take points from the games against Dundee United and Motherwell,” said Gary.
And he’s confident the Lions will do the necessary. “The spirit is still good and the lads are still quite chirpy. It’s just a case of getting on the park and getting results, which obviously will give us a happy Christmas.
Gary and his younger sister grew up in the Linlathen area of Dundee . And it was in his home city that he first made a name for himself on the park. But Gary’s initial involvement in the game was somewhat accidental. “I was seven years old and went along to watch my older cousin’s team playing one day and got a game,” he explained, “and it just went on from there.
The team was Fairmuir Boys Club, setting Gary off on the first steps of an illustrious footballing career.
Even in those bygone days, Gary was a big lad. “They were under 10s, but the manager wouldn’t give me a game at first. I was quite a big lad and he had to check with my mum and dad that I was only seven years old.
“I played left back and have stayed there for most of my career, although I did play in midfield for a bit as well.
“I have never, ever been a prolific goalscorer, although I did win the Golden Boot at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup Tournament when I was with Dundee United under 14s. I can’t remember how many goals I scored, though.”
Gary went straight from school to playing professional football. “I was on an ‘S’ Form with Dundee United. Jim McLean was the manager and probably taught me most things. He set me in good stead and good habits were knocked into you.
“I was there for six years before going to Rangers for a three-year spell with the nine-in-a-row side.
“I had a great time at Ibrox, although I was injured for a while. The experience of playing with the players who were there at the time was unbelievable.”
Gary then moved on to Perth to turn out for St Johnstone, where, similar to Livingston, he also finished third in the league and had a run in the EUFA Cup.
His move to Livingston was under freedom of contract, but Gary admitted to being impressed with the Livingston set up when St Johnstone beat the Lions 3-0 in the Scottish Cup. “At that time there were only three stands, but I could see that the club was going somewhere and I didn’t think twice about moving.
“I have not regretted it in the slightest.”
Gary lives about a mile from the ground. And he’s loving life in Livingston, where his wife has just started a new course at West Lothian College and his kids are settled in at school and playgroup.
“It’s just an hour’s drive from Dundee and it’s between Edinburgh and Glasgow, so it’s very handy.”
Having been a professional footballer all his working life, most of Gary’s thoughts, when not with his family, are focused on the game. But when the opportunity arises he does like a day at the races.
Gary enjoyed his European run at Livi. “It was a different experience, it gets you away from your normal league games,” he commented. “I think for the club to play in Europe in its first year in the Premier League was absolutely fantastic.
“I think we let ourselves down in Austria, but I think when we came back here we showed that we could live with teams like Sturm Graz. You’ve only got to look at the fact they beat Lazio last week in Italy, and we managed to beat them here.”
Gary concedes that league results this year have been disappointing, but he’s not ruling out a place in the top six at least. “I think after last year, the expectation levels were much higher but this year we’ve not been getting results.
I don’t think we’ve been playing too badly, we’re not getting the breaks we were last year, but that’s football for you.
“It’s not a confidence thing, it’s just that we’re not getting the breaks we were last year, but these things even themselves out over the season. Hopefully come the turn of the year the breaks will start going for us and not against us.”
As a family man, Gary enjoys Christmas. But regardless of what he got from Santa on Christmas day, there is one present that he would love above all else – and that’s the six points from this week’s matches against Dundee United and Motherwell.
When and where were you born?
Dundee, March 1973
Romantic status (ie married, single, available, unavailable)
Married to Lesley, two kids, Mya and Luc
What’s your favourite record?
Anything by Bon Jovi
Who would you want to play you in a film?
I have absolutely no idea
What do you like most about West Lothian?
It’s got decent shopping facilities with Almondvale centre and McCarthur Glen
What do you like least about West Lothian?
I can’t say that there’s anything I particularly dislike about it.
If you could be someone else, who would it be?
I am happy being myself
What do you like most about yourself?
I am easy to get on with in the dressing room
What do you like least about yourself?
I have a short fuse at times