Alex Cunningham has admitted the drive and ambition of Civil Service Strollers both on and off the field was the main reason behind his decision to accept the manager’s job at the club. Civil host Tynecastle at Marine Drive in League Cup Qualifying Group A (2pm kick-off) tomorrow.
Former Spartans manager Cunningham left Ainslie Park at the end of last season after 12 years and has enticed a number of former players to his new club. David Stewart, Matthew Cunningham, Kyle Boggie, Ian Ballantyne, Scott Clapperton and Barry Milvin have followed Cunningham from Ainslie Park to Marine Drive.
The club have also celebrated their SFA Entry Level entrance after making a host of ground improvements and have a Scottish Cup first qualifying round tie with Newton Stewart on the horizon, and Cunnigham has been impressed with the ambition of his new club.
“I can’t speak highly enough of guys like Keith Stewart, Tam Brown and Russell Pryde, who have overseen the wonderful ground improvements over the last few months and the new under-20 side which is beginning to take shape,” said Cunningham.
“We’ve had some tough pre-season fixtures against some strong Junior outfits, but I’ve been really impressed with the squad so far and it augurs well for the new campaign.”
Elsewhere, Steve Vinter begins his reign at Tynecastle having coached the club’s thriving under-21 squad last season.
He will be assisted by his brother, Ross, and former Hearts and Dundee United striker Scott Crabbe, with Rangers and former Hearts left-back Lee Wallace also on the backroom team. We’ve been back at pre-season nearly eight weeks now and at the tail end of last season, with the extensive conversations I had with Dougie Dalgleish and knowing how the league was going to be re-structured for this season, we’ve had plenty time to prepare,” said Vinter.
Tony Muir and Jamie Devlin have moved to Lowland League Whitehill Welfare, but Tynie have signed Hayden Crane from Spartans, Mark Leslie from Leith Atheltic and Martin and Dayne Robertson from Civil.
“We’ve managed to supplement a very good squad from last season, keeping the likes of Robbie McIntyre and Chris Milligan,” added Vinter.
“We want to promote a good entertaining style of play at Tynecastle and it’s all about the players buying into that.”
Reigning league champions Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale host Craigroyston at Saughton Enclosure tomorrow (2.30pm).
Following the departures of John Williams, Callum Connolly, Sean Wringe and Kevin Keane, manager Raymond Carr has replaced them with Jason Coyle, Dylan Moore and Dean Cummings, with Lothian also in talks with former Edinburgh City striker Ryan Wilson.
“I feel I’ve replaced the quality that we lost and I’ve been particularly delighted with Dylan Moore, who has shown tremendous appetite and a real physical presence in pre-season training so far,” said Carr.
Craigroyston start life under new manager Andrew Brown, with the former Edinburgh City coach taking Mark Torrance and Stuart Donaldson on loan from City, while Euan McIntosh has joined from Tynecastle and Steven Moncur from Strollers.
Colin Tomassi has been appointed the new manager of Spartans EOS. The side travel to Duns in League Cup Qualifying Group C tomorrow (3pm) and Tomassi will be assisted by Chris Anderson, who will take up a player/coach role.
“Ultimately it will be about bringing younger players through – but it’s also to ensure that this won’t be at the expense of winning,” said the former Civil Service Strollers coach.
“It’s about getting the Lowland and EOS sides closely involved with one another,” added Tomassi.
Holders Leith Athletic travel to Coldstream in Group D (2.30pm). Derek Riddell has added former Tynecastle player Kyle Fee to his squad, while Lewis Martin has returned from a six-month travelling stint. Sean Melvin has signed his first professional contract at Atheltic, with towering midfielder Gavin Kneeshaw returning to Meadowbank.
Tomorrow’s other match in Group D sees Ormiston and Heriot-Watt meet at Recreation Park (2.30pm).
Former Heriot-Watt coach Michael Renwick has been assisting with the students’ pre-season training, while Ormiston have signed Michael Osborne from Preston Athletic and Michael Hamilton from Musselburgh Athletic.
Section A: Burntisland Shipyard, Tynecastle, Civil Service Strollers, Eyemouth United.
Section B: Peebles Rovers, Lothian Thistle HV, Craigroyston, Hawick Royal Albert.
Section C: Duns, Stirling Unversity Reserves, Spartans EOS, Kelso United.
Section D: Coldstream, Leith Atheltic, Heriot Watt University, Ormiston.