Mike LAWSON, co-manager of Spartans with Sam Lynch for the past 11 seasons, has lifted the lid on the turn of events at Ainslie Park which saw the pair leave the club earlier this week.
While Spartans have suffered a rare season without silverware, the loss of their East Seniors Premier Division title on the final day of the season to nearest rivals Stirling University and then defeat in the King Cup final to the same side, apparently masked much deeper schisms in the managerial set-up.
Lawson was today keen to set the record straight.
“Craig Graham [The Spartans chairman] telephoned me on Monday to tell me Sam and my services were no longer required,” he said. “In over 20 years of football management I’ve made a few mistakes but the biggest was staying with Spartans after I walked out of a meeting held a couple of days after our pre-season game against Manchester United last July.
“Match secretary Jimmy Murray, along with Sam Lynch, had persuaded me to join the club 11 years ago and it was only for them and the players that I stayed.
“At that first meeting, Sam and I had with the committee since the previous successful season, you’d have thought the first thing on the agenda would be some sort of congratulations? On the contrary, with every domestic trophy you can win in the East of Scotland League sitting on the cabinet behind us, they laid into Sam and me with a list of things they weren’t happy about.
“I told Sam I wasn’t listening and walked out. I should never have gone back. I was never a ‘true’ Spartan but Sam had been with the club as a player, coach and manager for over 20 years. He is the most successful manager the club will ever have and the first in its 60-year history to be sacked.
“Managers at Spartans have always been ex-players who all knew when it was time to move on. Sam has been there longer than any and his success warranted it. He wasn’t ready to go and should never have been pushed. His treatment has been shoddy and his sacking a disgrace.
“Since Monday I have found out that the committee have been trying to get rid of Sam and me for four or five years and I now know who has been trying to force us out. Our continued success must have been grating. It’s, dare I say it, ‘not in the Spartans way’ – more Roman and ‘Et tu, Brute?’
“Sam deserves much better. He’s worked for the club for nothing. As well as helping me with the first team, he’s pulled together the youth and Junior coaches to help develop our promising youngsters and, unknown to me, he enrolled the two of us on SFA Coaching courses to help with club licensing. I’ve since found out that he paid for that himself.
“I still have a hunger for the game and hope to stay in football in some capacity.”
Lynch, who had a successful playing career with Spartans before coaching and managing the club for the past 20 years, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time as a player and as a manger with Spartans. I have worked with some great people and I have nothing but fond memories although I am disappointed at the way it has ended.
“I wish whoever replaces us every success and that they help move the club forward and into the SFL. I will never lose my affection for The Spartans.”
Murray, who joined Spartans as match secretary as the same time as Lawson and has since been a committee member and latterly a director, resigned on Monday before Lynch and Lawson were relieved of their duties saying he “wanted nothing to do with the committee’s decision to sack Sam and Mike.”
Craig Graham, The Spartans chairman, said: “We are embarking on a five-year plan with licencing, the introduction of a Lowland League and hopefully a place in the SFL. The committee decided that this was a good time to change as we want to build and introduce young players. We are an ambitious club with excellent facilities.”
An early favourite for the vacant position is certain to be the successful Edinburgh University head coach, Douglas Samuel, who is also the Development Manager at The Spartans Community Football Academy. Samuel previously played with Spartans while his assistant at Edinburgh University, Neil Irvine, is also a former player.
Meanwhile, Whitehill Welfare are seeking applications for the post of manager after the departure of Grant Carnie and Kevin Twaddle. Interested parties should contact chairman Derek Waterson on 0131 440 2320 or 0131 440 3050 or secretary Peter McGauley on 0131 440 3417.