Vale of Leithen recruit new head coach in bid to salvage season

Vale of Leithen have recruited a new head coach they hope will be able to keep them in the Scottish Lowland Football League and end a losing streak stretching back to December 2019.
Grant Sandison is Vale of Leithen's new head coachGrant Sandison is Vale of Leithen's new head coach
Grant Sandison is Vale of Leithen's new head coach

Grant Sandison, previously in charge of the under-20s side at Midlothian’s Penicuik Athletic, says he’s under no illusions about the size of the challenge he’s taking on at the Innerleithen club but says it’s one he’s relishing.

His No 2 at Victoria Park will be Ryan Brady, his assistant head coach at Athletic’s under-20s, and they’ll be helped out by coaches Aki Munro and Ryan Bisset, caretaker gaffers at Vale since player-manager Chris Anderson’s resignation in August.

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“I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, but I’m excited to get started and aim to get the Vale back to the level the club should be at,” said Sandison, a Uefa B licence-qualified coach previously with Whitehill Welfare.

“It’s a huge challenge ahead but it’s one we’re really looking forward to.”

Vale had last weekend off but their season hit a new low the weekend before as they lost 11-0 to Berwick Rangers just three days after being beaten 13-0 by Bonnyrigg Rose.

They’re currently six points adrift of second-bottom Gretna 2008 at the foot of the league, having lost all 15 games they’ve played this campaign, conceding 96 goals and scoring just five in reply.

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They haven’t won a league game since they beat Borders rivals Gala Fairydean Rovers 3-1 away back at the end of December 2019 and they last tasted victory at home in the league in April of that year, beating Cumbernauld Colts 5-0.

A spokesperson for the club welcomed the new appointments, saying: “A young, enthusiastic and positive coach with exciting and attacking football as his philosophy, combined with experiences gained throughout his playing career at Hamilton, Raith Rovers, Alloa and Berwick Rangers, Grant has said he does not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead of him.

“Working alongside Grant will be his assistant from Penicuik, Ryan Brady.

“Ryan has gained experience and knowledge in the game from a playing career at Hearts, Falkirk, Berwick Rangers and Arthurlie, as well as being head coach at Edinburgh University under-20s and assistant to Grant at Penicuik.

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“Ryan has been eager to take on a new challenge in recent months and an opportunity like this was perfect for him.

“He is looking forward to driving the team forward in a more positive direction and developing current squad members and also fresh faces coming in, as well as making football at Victoria Park more enjoyable for the players, supporters and all connected to this great club.”

Sandison’s first game in charge of Vale, captained by Mikey Robertson, will be away to Edinburgh Uni, at East Peffermill, this coming Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm.

That will be followed by a trip to fellow strugglers Gretna 2008 the Saturday after, October 30.

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Sandison and Brady’s arrival follows those of a host of new players including twins Charles and Alex Marr, David Scott, Eusebio Mendes, Lewin Mapira and Sami El Yamani, with further signings expected soon.