Martin Scott takes over as Gala Fairydean Rovers boss after Neil Hastings quits for new job
Gala Fairydean Rovers manager Neil Hastings has quit the club to take up a new coaching post at Scottish Premiership side Livingston.
The 30-year-old is being replaced, initially until the end of the current Scottish Lowland Football League season, by Martin ‘Jimmy’ Scott, previously assistant manager to Hastings at the Galashiels club as well as being a first-team coach and playing in midfield.
Ex-Aberdeen striker Steven Craig is taking over as assistant manager and the 40-year-old will start that role this week ahead of Rovers’ home game against table-toppers Bonnyrigg Rose this coming Saturday, January 15.
Scott, at the Netherdale club for six months since joining from Forfar Athletic, says he’s relishing the opportunity to take charge and focus more on coaching.
“I’m honoured and excited to be appointed manager of the club and I am really looking forward to getting started this week,” said the 35-year-old.
“It will be a smooth transition for me, and this is credit to the players, staff and everyone who’s involved in the operation of the club.
“I’ve worked very closely with Neil over the last six months and ultimately the philosophy will remain the same in how we want to approach the game, although I will always keep putting demands on the players to improve on the good work already done.
“I have added Steven Craig to assist with first-team operations, and to attract someone of Stevie’s pedigree shows what a fantastic club we have here and he’s very excited to start working with myself, staff and the squad.
“On a personal note, I’m absolutely delighted for Neil moving to a full-time position in football. He certainly deserves that opportunity and I have no doubt he will be a huge success.
“Anyone associated with the club would agree this day would eventually arrive as he has a big future in coaching and management, and he certainly leaves Gala with everyone’s best wishes.”
Former Livingston player Hastings arrived at Gala in May 2019, replacing Dean Shanks, and led them to their highest-ever league finish last season, sixth, despite that being his first management job after spells as assistant gaffer at Berwick Rangers and Cowdenbeath.
It’s not yet been confirmed what club he’s off to but he’s expected to be announced shortly as replacement for Dougie Imrie as first-team coach at his old club Livingston following the 38-year-old’s move to Greenock Morton last month to take over as manager.
He said: “Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the chairman and the board for their belief and trust in giving me my first managerial post back in May 2019.
“They have continued to support and help me during my time at the club and for that I will be forever grateful.
“Secondly, I would like to thank everyone behind the scenes at the club. At Gala, this group is not a huge number and all of them are volunteers, and at any level there is a lot of time and work that must be put in to get games on.
“Washing strips, setting up goals, running turnstiles and hospitality are all jobs that need to be done and both the players and I appreciate it.
“Finally, I need to thank all of the players and every member of staff who has been at the club during my time. Please believe me, none of them pay their mortgage from being at the club but their commitment and the sacrifices they have made have been second to none.
“I believe we currently have a fantastic group of players and staff who I have enjoyed working and spending time with.
“In football, there are many ups and downs, and during my time at the club, it has been no different.
“We have had positive results and disappointing results and performances, but the most frustrating thing is we haven’t been able to complete a full season during my time due to each season being prematurely finished due to Covid.
“I leave a fantastic club with good people who have good morals and beliefs. I leave with fond memories and friends for life. Thanks, and take care.”
Club chairman Ryan Cass added: “Three seasons ago, we lost our way a little and lost our identity. It was so important we got that back.
“When Neil was appointed, he knew how important it was for Gala to play a certain way. His philosophy matched the club’s, which was really exciting.
“When the club decided to appoint Neil, there were a few people outside the club that were very surprised as we finished in eighth place the season before, but we knew that we got the right man for the job to bring back that identity and produce a team that the town could be proud of.
“Since then, we have gone from strength to strength and it has been the most successful period in the club’s history, with a sixth-place league finish and progressing to the third round of the Scottish Cup this year, narrowly being defeated by League 2 contenders Annan Athletic.
“I can’t thank Neil, the coaching staff and the players enough over the last few seasons and wish him all the best for the future.
“It didn’t surprise me when a club from the top flight came calling as his coaching skills are second to none, but most importantly as a person he is a great guy that wants to constantly learn and develop as a coach.
“He has built a tremendous team spirit here at Gala, which hasn’t gone unseen as season ticket sales have been on the rise for the last two seasons.
“The club wish him good luck to not only our now ex-manager but to our friend, and no doubt he’ll progress even further in the game.
“We also want to wish Martin Scott and Steven Craig, along with coach Colin McCall, all the very best for the rest of the season.”
West Lothian-born Scott’s other previous clubs include Brechin City, Cove Rangers, Cowdenbeath, Arbroath, Stenhousemuir, Raith Rovers, Hibernian, Ross County and Livingston, his home-town club.