Craig James Bryson was born in Rutherglen Scotland on the 6th of November 1986. Recognised as a very talented junior player, Bryson signed his first professional contract with Clyde for the 2003–04 season.
He didn't make a first team appearance for the club and was loaned out to a junior team set up at East Kilbride Thistle later the same season. It was there he made a massive impression and excelled winning the club's Young Player of the Year award.
After returning to Clyde he was handed a first team debut for them in the Scottish First Division against Raith Rovers on the 14th August 2004. His first match was one to remember after starting in the best way by getting his name on the score sheet after only 4 minutes as Clyde went on to win 3-2.
Bryson was offered and accepted a new contract in November and the accolades kept rolling in when he was selected in the Scotland under-19 team for a friendly against Germany.
Bryson scored in a 2–1 victory over Ross County in a Scottish Cup replay which earned them a quarter-final tie against Celtic who Bryson had followed fanatically as a boy.
Bryson started the Cup tie against Celtic and looked to have scored after hitting the back of the net from a long range strike. Unfortunately his goal was controversially ruled out after the referee had blown his whistle to award a free kick to Clyde. Celtic went on to win 5–0.
Craig continued his good form over the season and went on to win Clyde's Young Player of the Year Award for 2004–05.
During the 2005–06 season Bryson made a name for himself when he scored goals against both of the Old Firm clubs. In September 2005, he scored Clyde's equalising goal against Rangers in a Scottish League Cup tie at Ibrox Stadium, in a brave 5–2 extra time defeat.
In January 2006, Bryson scored the opener in what became a famous 2–1 Scottish Cup win over Celtic, the game in which Roy Keane made his Celtic debut.
Craig’s profile was on the rise and it was no surprise he was being linked with moves to bigger clubs as both Celtic and Tottenham Hotspur were being touted at possible suitors. A move did not eventuate but Bryson’s good form earned a call up to represent the Scotland under-21 side.
In October 2006, Bryson scored in a 3–1 victory over Greenock Morton in a Scottish Challenge Cup semi-final, which sent Clyde to their first major final in 48 years. He started the final the following month against Ross County, which Clyde lost on penalties.
Bryson, along with club-mate Neil McGregor, was selected in the SPFA First Division Team of 2006–07 and with his contract expiring it was then Bryson first had a brush with Derby County. In January 2007 Billy Davies gave a week's trial to Craig but Davies decided not to sign him permanently.
Bryson left Clyde at the end of the 2006–07 season, having made 114 overall appearances, scoring 12 goals.
Bryson signed for SPL side Kilmarnock in July 2007 and scored his first goals for the club in a 3–1 victory against Aberdeen.
During 2008 Bryson established himself as an integral part of the first team and was considered one of the rising midfield stars in the league. His good form meant the Scottish club were keen to ensure his future and negotiated a contract extension which would keep him at Killie until the summer of 2013.
During his time in the SPL he went from a promising youngster to the Captain of his club in less than three years and made his full international debut for Scotland as a second half substitute on 16th November 2010 against Faroe Islands at Pittodrie.
At only 24 years of age was beginning to attract much interest in Scotland and the Championship in England with reports that Derby, Leicester, Hull and Brighton were all chasing his services.
On June 4 2011 after much press speculation, Kilmarnock and Derby County agreed to a transfer and Bryson signed for the Rams on June 9. The fee was officially announced as ‘undisclosed’ but media outlets speculated it to be in the vicinity of £350,000 which could rise to £450,000 with appearances.
He left Kilmarnock behind having made 135 appearances, scoring 14 goals. Last season he started 33 of the 38 SPL played and was a major factor in the Killie achieving a top-six finish.
On signing with the Rams Bryson was excited about the challenge ahead:
"When I came down on trial four years ago, Billy Davies didn't feel I was quite ready and he was right, to be fair. I think I got the trial on the back of one game – when I scored in a famous cup win against Celtic, which was shown live on Sky – but I didn't have much experience at the time.”
"I eventually went to Kilmarnock, where I played a lot of games and ended up as captain. So I feel I am coming to Derby this time as a much more experienced, mature player.”
"I wasn't ready then but I am now.”
"I have always thought about coming back and I told my parents that if I ever got the opportunity to go back, I would jump at the chance. There were a couple of other Championship teams interested but as soon as I found out Derby wanted me, my mind was made up.”
"It's a brilliant opportunity for me and I can't wait to get started. Derby is a huge club with big ambitions, so it was an easy decision to make."
"At Kilmarnock, they played either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-2-1, and I have played in the two and the three. I've not scored as many goals as I would have liked so far but, hopefully, I can get a few in the Championship."
"I would describe myself as a box-to-box central midfielder, who will always give 100% for the team. Even if I'm not having the best of games, I will always give absolutely everything, which is all the fans ask for, I think.”
"If you don't do that, you are cheating yourself, the manager and the supporters.”
Rams manager Nigel Clough revealed the club had been keeping an eye on the Killie Captain for quite some time:
"It's a tremendous signing for us and we are delighted that Craig has chosen to come to Derby County. He is a leader on and off the field and has a tremendous hunger to improve.”
"We have watched him in action repeatedly over the last six months and he has energy and ability in abundance.”
"At 24, he is a player we see having a big impact both now and in the future."
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