Managers come and go in sizzling season

The Forsyth Cup Final at Runciman Park, Earlston between Tweedmouth Ams and Greenlaw. Tweedmouth win 1-0. Tweedmouth pair Nicky Clark and Ross Aitchison are presented with the Forsyth Cup by Grace Forsyth.
The Forsyth Cup Final at Runciman Park, Earlston between Tweedmouth Ams and Greenlaw. Tweedmouth win 1-0. Tweedmouth pair Nicky Clark and Ross Aitchison are presented with the Forsyth Cup by Grace Forsyth.
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IN a society that now demands everything to be done at speed, it is not surprising that football’s managerial merry-go-round has reached the Borders.

A total of 14 coaches took charge of the region’s nine East of Scotland League clubs this season as the need for quick results meant managers were sacked, quit under pressure or moved on to new challenges.

Hawick Waverley's Beveridge Cup winning side

Hawick Waverley's Beveridge Cup winning side

Premier Division Vale of Leithen went through three bosses, with Robbie Horn lured to old club Berwick Rangers as assistant manager after guiding his team on a successful Scottish Cup run, which ended with a respectable third-round defeat at Auchinleck Talbot. The Ayrshire side went on to lose just 1-0 to eventual cup winners Hearts in round four.

Jamie Burrell stepped into Horn’s place on the bench, but resigned in April after a series of results raised the fear of relegation, before former Lothian Thistle boss Fraser Oglivie sparked an end-of-season revival.

At Selkirk, Bryan Templeton’s nine-month reign was ended in November with the club marooned at the bottom of the Premier Division.

And despite gutsy showings from the likes of Jamie Gibson, who finished with an impressive 22 goals, new manager Mike McKinnon could not save the Souters from relegation to the First Division.

Gala Fairydean v Ormiston. Gala did not make promotion.

Gala Fairydean v Ormiston. Gala did not make promotion.

However, under the former Cowdenbeath striker’s guidance, Selkirk remain confident of a quick return to the top flight.

A cliché it may be, but Gala Fairydean’s year could only be described as a rollercoaster.

Although there were no managerial changes, with Fraser Lothian remaining in charge throughout, results fluctuated in the first half of the season, from thumping wins over Hawick Royal Albert and Golspie Sutherland in the Scottish Cup, to an 11-0 hammering by Airdrie in the same competition.

The Dean’s fortunes were not helped by a significant delay to the opening of the new 3G pitch, forcing the club to play every game away from home until January, and the loss of talented striker Craig Livingstone to injury.

However, the synthetic surface’s introduction sparked a charge for promotion, which ultimately ended in heartbreaking circumstances, as Preston edged into the Premier Division via goal difference on the final day.

Kelso United once again proved a match for any side on their day at Woodside Park, beating Premier Division Leith Athletic and Gala during the season, but inconsistency once again dogged their efforts as the Tweedsiders finished eighth.

Peebles Rovers, and Borders football in general, mourned the death of Maurice Gordon in October, a club legend who also produced match reports for TheSouthern for decades.

A failed coup to run the team by assistant manager Kevin Martin and Whitestone Park’s flooding problems led to a nightmare season for veteran manager Stuart Robertson, as Rovers ended 11th out of 13 teams.

There was no change in Hawick Royal Albert’s league position as the Teries once again propped up the First Division table.

But under Lawrie Dunn, who was sacked by Coldstream before taking over from Mick Murphy, a raft of new players were brought in, albeit from the Edinburgh area, and a few wins and better performances restored some respectability to Albert Park.

With the Royalists announcing a home pre-season friendly against Rangers on July 21, surely a game to inspire their tuneful new band of young supporters, fortunes might, at last, be set to improve for Hawick.

Meanwhile, in the Border Amateur League, Pencaitland claimed the Division A title, but Leithen Rovers nabbed the South and Border cups.

The newly created Forsyth Cup, in memory of the late Earlston Rhymers stalwart Jimmy, was claimed by Tweedmouth Amateurs, while Hawick Waverley took the final trophy of the season last Tuesday night, beating Pencaitland 4-3 to lift the Beveridge Cup.