A group of former Lochend amateur footballers are leading Edinburgh United’s push for successive promotions from the Premier League to the top flight.
Midfielder Sean Lothian and defender Nicky Murray joined the Paties Road club over the summer and, along with striker Matty Hunter who was also at Lochend, have led the South Division champions up to third in the table, just one point off top spot.
United have exceeded their pre-season expectations. Edinburgh’s only Junior club were expected to struggle in the Premier League after losing manager Johnny Harvey and four key players from last season’s title success to Haddington Athletic, but they are thriving in the East Region’s second tier.
United have won their last four Premier League games and have kept a clean sheet in their last seven in all competitions as they seek promotion to the Super League.
Lothian, who left Lochend before their LEAFA Premier 2 title success last season after a fall-out with the club’s manager, is flourishing at Junior level in his role at the heart of Edinburgh’s midfield.
“It’s brilliant, but it’s a lot harder,” said 25-year-old Lothian when comparing the two levels. “It’s a lot more professional than amateur football – training twice a week and having to prepare well for each game.
“I’ve taken it in my stride. I spoke to Kevin Milne [assistant manager] and he says I’ve been one of the better players on the park. I don’t think I could ever go back to playing amateurs.”
Lothian, a postman, had taken a break from football after youth level, instead opting to sample Edinburgh’s nightlife instead of the playing field, but got back into the game with Lochend in his early 20s.
He continued: “I didn’t really play football before Lochend. When I was younger I played at Hearts and for my school, but from when I was about 18 to 22 I never played at all. I wish I had kept at it.”
His manager, Jack Lynch, who is in his first management job with United after previously coaching at Dalkeith Thistle, has been impressed with the start Lothian has made, citing the fact it is often difficult for amateur players to adapt to the more professional attitude in Juniors.
Lynch said: “Sean’s got great talent and he’s one of the reasons why we are doing so well.”
United host fellow promotion chasers Dundee Violet this Saturday, and could overtake league leaders Dundonald Bluebell with a win, although United still have two games in hand over the Fife men.