AN AMATEUR football team based in the capital is set for a pre-season training session with a difference as players prepare to be put through their paces by Hibs boss Neil Lennon.
Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association side Edinburgh Harps won the right to receive a coaching session from the Championship-winning manager as part of a competition hosted by the Easter Road club’s shirt sponsors, MarathonBet.
Dozens of clubs from around Scotland entered videos via social media showing why they needed Lennon’s help, before the Meggetland-based Harps were eventually chosen.
Coaching staff at the club, which narrowly missed out on promotion from the Lothian West division this season, will now hand over the reins to former Celtic boss Lennon for this week’s training session.
Coach James Moran, 29, said the team were “well up for Thursday’s session”, and revealed he was hoping to pick up a few tips from the former Northern Irish international ahead of next season.
He said: “It should be interesting to see how his coaching differs from what we try to do every week in training.
“We always try to play with the ball on the deck, which is always difficult in our league, but it’s something I’m big on.
“We do a lot of passing drills where the object is to keep the ball, but with some of the pitches we play on, it’s not always possible, so hopefully he can help us with playing like that more often.”
Lennon has moved quickly in the transfer market since sealing Hibs’ return to the top flight in April, adding Dundee United forward Simon Murray and St Johnstone winger Danny Swanson to the squad and tying down six members of his Championship-winning side to extended contracts.
And according to James, there may be a few players in the Harps squad aiming to catch his eye.
“We’ve had scouts down from a few league sides taking a look at our younger guys,” he revealed.
“I know there’s been a couple of scouts down from Cowdenbeath and we’ve had a few players make the step up to junior football quite successfully.”
Harps founder Gary Gormley said it was “fantastic” for Lennon to be involved with the squad, adding: “It’s not professional, but everyone here tries their hardest, we hold ourselves to a high standard.
“For a club like ours, survival from year to year is essential. We’ve only been on the go for five years but we’ve made a real impact so far.
“Everyone knows what Neil Lennon has achieved in Scottish football with Celtic and recently with Hibs, he knows how to win.”
A spokesperson for Hibs said: “Neil Lennon giving a training session with some of his coaching staff to Edinburgh Harps is a great bit of fan engagement from Marathonbet, who have always been willing to proactively engage with our supporters. We’ve had the ‘Shoot the O’ challenge, the green Santa hats at Tannadice, the away day to Greenock Morton and now this, which we hope will help Edinburgh Harps, but most of all, we hope they enjoy their training session with Neil.”