HARD work and 5am starts have paid off for a fledgling footballer from Greenock after netting his first professional contract.

Nineteen-year-old midfielder Luke McCowan has signed for Ayr United after impressing manager Ian McCall.

The left-footer, who lives in the east end, is now entering his third year with the Somerset Park side having worked his way through the youth ranks before breaking into the first team at the end of last season.

He has now been rewarded with a full-time deal at the club.
The former Notre Dame High pupil has been splitting his time between 5am starts working as a lifeguard at the Waterfront Leisure Complex, gym sessions in the afternoon then over an hour’s drive down the coast to training in the evening.

He’s lucky to be home before midnight before starting it all over again a few hours later.

But the effort and determination has paid dividends and the ex-East End United Boys’ Club player can’t wait to get started.

Luke told the Tele: “It’s brilliant, this is such a good opportunity for me.

“I’ve worked hard for it and there’s a lot of travelling.

“A boy I used to play with gave it six months and couldn’t handle the travelling and he left.

“But I thought I would give it a shot, try it out and luckily it worked out for me.

“I’m glad I won’t need to get up at five every morning now.”

Luke reached the Scottish Cup final with high school Notre Dame two years ago but cruelly lost out on penalties, although he scored his spot-kick.

He made up for it with boys’ club East End United a few weeks later by winning the national cup competition and the West of Scotland title.

Next season Luke, who plays in the centre of midfield or as a winger, will be training day-in, day-out next term after the Honest Men decided to go full-time as they look to bounce back to the Championship after relegation to League One.

The Greenock footballer has penned a one-year deal and can’t wait to start working with ex-Morton gaffer McCall.

Luke said: “I was in the first team for a few weeks last season and that was great.

“The manager has been brilliant and spoken to me and said he trusts me to go into his team and to do a job.

“I’m looking forward to working with him.

“I’m going to work hard and work my wee socks off and see where it takes me.”