Grant CARNIE faces a baptism of fire when he takes his place in the Whitehill Welfare technical area tomorrow after being appointed as the manager of one of Scotland’s top non-league clubs this week.
Carnie, 30, was given this job after the shock resignation of Rab Paget after Whitehill’s 4-1 defeat at Spartans last Saturday. Paget had been the manager for ten months.
Carnie joins a long list of managers who have been in the hotseat at Rosewell during the past few years including Jacky Smyth, Rab Findlay, Henry Smith, John Clark, Paul Cavanagh, Raymond Carr and the manager of tomorrow’s opponents, Garry Aitchison of Civil Service Strollers.
Whitehill were the dominant East of Scotland League club throughout the 1980s and 1990s and gained Scottish Cup acclamation only 16 years ago when they gave then holders Celtic a real test at Easter Road before losing 3-0. In that era Whitehill won the Premier Division title six times in seven seasons and were regular cup winners. However, trophies have been infrequent visitors to the Rosewell clubrooms this Millennium with only two league titles, three League Cup successes and one victory in the Image Printers Cup.
Carnie has been charged with lifting Whitehill back to the force they previously were when they were feared by every other team, not only in East of Scotland circles, but also throughout Scotland.
Carnie was Paget’s assistant at Rosewell and knows all the players he is now looking to mould into a side which can challenge Spartans, Stirling University, Gretna 2008, Vale of Leithen and Civil Service for this season’s Central Taxis Premier Division title.
“The league title is still a possibility,” said Carnie. “I am looking for us to win every game between now and the end of the season. We are going to be very competitive and there is definitely a chance of achieving our goals.
“That result (against Spartans) is well in the past and I now need a response from from my players tomorrow. Training has been excellent this week and the players are all really buzzing. I have watched the Strollers this season and they have some very good players and they also have the points on the board which is very important because all the other teams have to catch up with them.
“We know that it will be tough but if we play as well as I know we can play then we are more than capable.
“Honestly, the players are bursting at the seams just to get on to the park.” Carnie welcomes back striker Wayne McIntosh after his suspension, although the dynamic Wayne Sproule leaves tomorrow for Thailand with a view to getting a professional contract with a club there.
Strollers have been on an impressive run which has seen them move into a lofty second position in the table.
“We have had some good performances, both individually and as a whole team, and the team spirit is absolutely fantastic,” said Stolllers manager, Garry Aitchison. “This is really down to the hard work the players are all putting in and my assistant Andy Jack also deserves a lot of credit. We regularly have 18 or 19 players at training and that means lots of players are fighting for starting places. I would reckon that overall, hard work is the tale of our season so far.
“Tomorrow we face Whitehill who have just appointed a new manager so their players will be out to impress Grant [Carnie]. Whitehill will have a point to prove and no doubt they will be very confident. I was the manager at Whitehill previously and their set-up is great.
“However, last season we went to Rosewell and won 4-1 in a game that changed our season as we sought to, and did, avoid relegation. This season is different, we have the points in the bag and are challenging at the top of the Premier Division. We kept playing friendlies during the Christmas and New Year break and everybody is in great shape with Russell Hogarth almost back to full fitness. We are certainly looking forward to going to Ferguson Park tomorrow.”
The Strollers have several former Whitehill players in their squad including Craig Anderson, Liam Jack, Danny Rennie and Murray Fraser, although striker Scott Gormley misses out because of suspension.
The game kicks-off at Ferguson Park at 2.00 pm with admission prices, adults £5.00 and concessions £2.00.