Vale of Leithen boss Michael Wilson ‘buzzing’ about challenging to get back up into Scottish Lowland Football League

With rival clubs such as Linlithgow Rose reportedly having budgets up to four times as big as his, Vale of Leithen manager Michael Wilson is all too aware of the size of the challenge he faces to get his team competing at the top end of the East of Scotland Football League’s premier division next season.

By Craig Goldthorp
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 3:03 pm
Vale of Leithen manager Michael Wilson (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Vale of Leithen manager Michael Wilson (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

The Innerleithen club’s gaffer is now looking ahead to the 2022-23 campaign, to be played out in Scottish football’s sixth tier following his side’s relegation from the Scottish Lowland Football League.

With the Borderers having picked up only five points throughout the season just finished – garnered from just one win, two draws and 31 defeats, yielding a goal difference of -156 – ex-Peebles Rovers boss Wilson looks to have a tough job on his hands next time round.

“First and foremost, I think the club just need to start winning games, picking up points and taking it from there,” Wilson – the Victoria Park club’s third manager in the last year, following Chris Anderson and Grant Sandison – told the Southern Reporter.

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“I’m confident in my own ability to bring in boys that will do that.

“I think the club just need to build a sort of winning mentality. They’ve not had it for a lot of years. It’s up to me to do that.

“It’s easier said than done, but I think once we get our first win, it will be a bit of relief for most of the squad, and from there we will just build on it.

“I want us to be competing at the top end of the table, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s going to be tough.

“A lot of teams have a lot higher budgets than we do, so the money I’ve got I need to spend wisely. I need to be quite frugal and bring in players that I think will make an impact on the squad, not just individual qualities, if that makes sense, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m buzzing, to be honest.”

With pre-season training for Vale starting on Saturday, June 4, Wilson says he will be bringing his players in early as he wants to try to make his team the fittest in their new division.

The gaffer has only been in post since March and has continued where Sandison left off by getting Vale largely competing well in their final few fixtures of the season.

“I gave it my best shot, but I think the damage was done,” he said.

“It’s just a case of picking them up and kicking them on. You’ve got to be positive.”

Vale were one of the founding members of the fifth-tier Lowland League back in 2013 and haven’t been relegated previously, though they were only spared from the drop in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gala Fairydean Rovers are now the region’s only representatives in the league, down from three for its first five years, Selkirk, until August 2018, being the other.

Vale’s highest-ever finish was sixth place in 2014, with Gala ending up 10th that year and Selkirk 12th and bottom.

Among the opposition Wilson’s side will face next term are Penicuik Athletic, Sauchie Juniors, Musselburgh Athletic and Dundonald Bluebell.

East Lothian’s Tranent Juniors will be taking their place in the next tier up.