Reporter David Friel talks to Clyde manager Billy Reid

CLYDE boss Billy Reid is in surprisingly upbeat mood as he offers a handshake and points the way to his spacious office, deep inside Broadwood Stadium.

Just 12 hours earlier, a 0-0 draw at the home of league leaders Falkirk had almost certainly brought the curtain down on his side's valiant promotion challenge.

With a massive 14-point deficit to make up over eight remaining games, the Bully Wee faithful has already accepted the reality of another season in the first division.

Yet despite his obvious disappointment at the previous evening's scoreline, Reid (41) offers a refreshingly honest version of events.

"Some people were being really negative after the game, but realistically it was always going to be very hard for us to catch Falkirk," he said.

"We have a very small squad and we have had to play seven league games in 20 days recently, while carrying a lot of injuries.

"It was an almost impossible mission but the players have battled hard and deserve a lot of credit for their efforts over the season.

"Personally, I have been pleased with my first year in charge, but I would never underestimate the importance of the grounding I received at this club.

"Under previous managers, I was allowed to learn my trade and I feel that experience has helped me greatly this season."

While the first division manager of the year award will almost certainly go to Falkirk's John Hughes, Reid's impressive work in his debut managerial season should not be overlooked.

Installed as Clyde's first team coach under Ronnie MacDonald and Allan Maitland in the late 1990s, Reid went on to become Alan Kernaghan's right-hand man in 2002 - before taking up the reins himself at the start of this season.

The bubbly character, who was born in Sighthill and attended Bishopbriggs High, was busy enjoying the sunshine of Benidorm last summer when news filtered through that the Clyde job was his - should he want it.

At that point, the Bully Wee possessed only five signed players but, after a frenzied spell of almost Arthur Daley-style wheeling and dealing, Reid moulded a strong side - who have surprised everyone with their consistency.

He revealed: "At the start of the season, the main aim was to ensure Clyde kept their first division status.

"We had lost 12 quality players, all regulars, and the directors had said to me that if the club could avoid relegation, we would have done our job.

"Once we started winning a few games, we thought about finishing in the top five and now we hope to finish in the top two.

"The players have been fantastic and the most pleasing thing about this season has been the incredible team spirit.

"My assistants Stuart Balmer and Gary Bollan have also been a great help, on and off the park.

He added: "When you take our Scottish Cup run into consideration, it has been a very successful, and satisfying, season.

"Finishing as runners-up for the third successive season would be a big achievement but it is also frustrating, as our league is the only one in Europe where you get no reward for being second!"

The 'cup run' Reid refers to saw the Bully Wee face Martin O'Neill's Celtic in a much-hyped quarter-final at Broadwood in February.

Despite the 5-0 scoreline, Clyde's players in no way disgraced themselves and the six-figure sum generated by that tie could allow Reid to strengthen his hand in time for next season.

"It was a great day for the club, the fans and the whole Cumbernauld community," Reid said.

"Very few of our players had ever played on that sort of stage before and I felt they acquitted themselves very well.

"The second goal just after half-time killed us, but I was proud of the lads and it has given many of them a taste for the big occasion.

"I still don't know what funds will be available to improve the squad for next season, but the directors are working hard and hopefully I will know where I stand over the next few weeks."

Before becoming a full-time coach, Reid worked as a lithographic printer for 17 years, combining this job with a successful playing career.

A short spell in the juniors with Ashfield and Petershill prepared him for the rigours of the senior game, where he made over 400 league appearances for Queen of the South, Clyde, Hamilton Academicals and Stirling Albion.

A tenacious midfielder, Reid modestly refers to himself as a "water-carrier" - a player who won headers, made tackles and left the ball-playing to his team-mates.

He strongly believes the presence of players like Celtic's Neil Lennon and Chelsea's Claude Makelele is a vital component in all successful sides and also holds a lot of admiration for fellow midfield terrier-cum-manager Gordon Strachan.

It was Strachan, of course, who famously replied "velocity" when he was asked for a 'quick word' by an eager reporter, but, given his early managerial success, is Reid in a rush to go anywhere?

He revealed: "I enjoy working at Clyde, it's a smashing club and I'm allowed to get on with the running of the place.

"You never know what's around the corner though. Most managers have aspirations of moving on to a bigger club and I am no different to anybody else."