DEREK Gaston admits it was tough to be told his time at Morton was up after seven years at the club.

The Ton goalkeeper has been the first player to be cut by new manager David Hopkin, who met with some of last year’s squad at Cappielow on Monday, as he begins to shape his squad for next season.

The 33-year-old has made over 200 appearances for the Ton over the years, but revealed he wasn’t totally surprised at the news after the club said there were going to be cuts earlier in the year.

He told the Tele: “I knew it was coming. If it had come in the last few years I would have been a wee bit more taken aback and shocked, but with the change in mindset I knew there was every chance I wouldn’t be there.

“I went in on Monday morning, spoke to the manager and he just said there wasn’t an offer there for me due to the budget for the forthcoming season.

“He said he would have kept me but with the budget for this season it wasn’t viable to offer me anything.

“He wished me all the best and apologised basically, and said sorry there’s nothing there as his hands were tied.

“I knew with the budget cuts being talked about a couple of months ago the older players in the team would be the first ones to go if there were budget cuts.

“Everybody knows I really enjoyed my time at the club.”

The keeper admitted there were ups and downs during his spell at Cappielow, being part of relegation and promotion with the club, when he was voted player of the year as they clinched the League One title.

He added: “We went from the real highs to some real lows with Morton.

“My first season at the club we were challenging Partick Thistle and narrowly missed out towards the end of the season. The next season we got relegated and then the next we were promoted.

“There’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows over the seven years, even the individual results — we’ve got results at Parkhead and Ibrox and big wins at Tannadice and at Easter Road, but I’ve seen us lose to teams like Spartans.

“There’s a lot of good memories from the years with Morton.”

The goalkeeper says the toughest part about leaving will be the relationships he’s struck up with people around the club and the fans, but he hopes to return one day as an opponent. 

He said: “Being at the club for seven years you end up creating a good friendship with a lot people: players, staff, things like that. You’ll miss these people that you went to work with everyday.

“The people around Cappielow as well — the groundsman, the people who do the 50/50 half-time draws, you get to know everyone at the club.

“The longer you’re there you get to know more fans on a personal level.

“The times I was struggling for form the fans have always been encouraging and sent me nice messages.

“I’ve seen players come and go over the years where fans maybe haven’t taken to them, but I’ve been fortunate enough from the first day I came in the fans have always been behind me and I think I’ve had a good relationship with them.

“I hope to come back as an opponent at Cappielow some day, maybe they won’t be so nice then!

“I’ll try and push on. When I spoke last time I wanted to stay at Morton, I didn’t want to go somewhere else. 

“Now I’ve found out I can try and get something sorted in the next week or two.”