Livi boss comes face to face with his star pupil

Grant Murray was given his coaching chance by Livi manager John McGlynn, below

Grant Murray was given his coaching chance by Livi manager John McGlynn, below

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Grant Murray has the utmost respect for his predecessor at Raith Rovers, John McGlynn.

He was, ultimately, the mentor responsible for prepping the former Hearts defender for an impending coaching career in the game.

McGlynn’s departure from Stark’s Park in favour of the Tynecastle hotseat in the summer of 2012 paved the way for Murray, who was then part of the Rovers playing staff and club captain, to step up and fill the vacancy.

Since Murray’s venture into football management just over two years ago, McGlynn has moved on from his role in Gorgie and is sparking something of a revival at Livingston, where the West Lothian side are just six points adrift of Championship leaders Hearts in the table.

Tomorrow, Murray takes his Raith contingent over the Forth to the Energy Assets Arena, where he will renew his acquaintance with a man he still holds in the highest regard.

“I’ve got massive respect for John,” Murray explained. “He was my manager for a few years at Raith, made me captain before his success led him to Hearts and, ultimately, got me my chance to fill his boots – so I owe John a massive amount.

“John got me into the coaching side of things when I was still playing and I still speak to him and we meet up regularly.

“But come 3pm tomorrow we’ll both be trying to do what’s best for our own football clubs.”

Murray acknowledges the Lions will be brimming with confidence following last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing of Alloa, Raith themselves involved in an identical outcome, albeit it was they who conceded four to Rangers without reply in Friday night’s televised game.

“We’ve came up against a very good Rangers side, obviously, and we’re coming off a defeat which we’re very disappointed about,” Murray said. “So we want to bounce back but we know Livingston had a great result against Alloa, so we know how tough it is going to be.

“From our point of view we’ve got to go there, look to be confident and try and be our best.

“You’ve got to be at your best to take anything with Hearts, Rangers and Hibs all in there.

“Livingston were unfortuante to lose out against Hibs on the opening day but have had decent results since against Cowdenbeath and Alloa, which are all difficult games, so I’ve been impressed with them so far.”

One player the Lions’ defence will need to be on guard against is the league’s top-scorer, Jordan White. The former Stirling Albion frontman has taken to his new surroundings like a duck to water and already has five goals in as many games this season – not to mention his hat-trick in last Saturday’s emphatic victory over the Wasps.

Murray said: “You’ve got to give the lad [White] respect as he’s scoring the goals just now. He’s a new signing for Livingston but he racked up a lot of goals for Stirling Albion last season, so it’s up to us to try and stop that. He certainly knows where the goal is.

“Being away from home though, we want to keep as many clean sheets as we can, but we’ll look to go and score our own goals and try and win the football match.”

Murray has already endeared himself to the Raith supporters after steering his side to League Challenge Cup success last season, an extra-time win over Rangers at Easter Road in April delivering the club’s first trophy since beating Celtic on penalties in the 1994 League Cup final.

And with Livingston having reached the penultimate round of the competition this year and a semi-final showdown with lower league opponents Stranraer to follow next month, Murray admits McGlynn has the opportunity to experience something special.

“I think what happened with ourselves last season gives a lot of clubs that aim now to go on and win the trophy,” he said. “So John now has the chance with Livingston.

“It brought a lot of exposure to the club and gave ourselves a massive day and a huge final against Rangers.

“It will live with the players for a long, long time. So for the teams, like Livingston, who are still in the competition, I am sure they will be doing everything they can to go on and try and win the cup.”