‘McLeish out’ prank led to Hunter exit from Burgh

Michael Hunter, left, says the Instagram photo was a practical joke  ' but Stevie McLeish, below, was not happy
Michael Hunter, left, says the Instagram photo was a practical joke ' but Stevie McLeish, below, was not happy
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Former Musselburgh Athletic midfielder Michael Hunter has lifted the lid on his sudden departure from the Olivebank club after he was transfer-listed following a drunken jape.

The 22-year-old, who sealed a switch to Premier League outfit Dalkeith Thistle last week, posted a picture of himself online at a night out with several of his current and former team-mates from the side that got to last season’s Junior Cup final with the hashtag “McLeishOut” in reference to his manager Stevie McLeish.

The picture appeared on Hunter’s Instagram account after their third defeat of the season, a 2-0 loss at home to Hill of Beath almost two weeks ago. Hunter admitted he has regrets about the incident, but never expected his former manager to find out and, as a self-confessed dressing-room joker, he didn’t expect the picture to be taken seriously.

He also feels team-mates Kevin McDonald and Alexander Christie have been treated unfairly after they too faced disciplinary action as they appeared alongside Hunter in the picture. Former Hibs youngster McDonald, who was part of last season’s coaching staff while recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, has since left the club.

“It was just for a bit of a laugh and I didn’t think anyone was going to see it,” said Hunter. “The last thing I thought was he was going to see it and kick off. I’d had a few bevvies so it didn’t really go through my head.

“Someone must’ve told him [McLeish] because I went into training on Monday and it all kicked off. I was called into a meeting with him, the chairman and the assistant manager. To be fair, the assistant manager was all right about it, he said ‘I know what you’re like, all you do is muck about and stuff’ and then next minute the manager was kicking off.

“Obviously, I shouldn’t have done it and it was all my fault but the buck should’ve stopped with me and it should’ve been me that was punished and nobody else. I think the way other people have been treated is shocking.

“I do regret doing it but he knows what I’m like, everybody I’ve played with in football knows what I’m like, they know all I do is muck about and have a laugh. I shouldn’t have done it but if that’s the way he’s going to take it ...”

McLeish refused to comment on the reasons behind Hunter’s departure as he prepares his side for tomorrow’s visit of Bo’ness United, but wished him all the best for the future.

Burgh have turned a corner since the Hill of Beath match, with successive victories over Newtongrange Star and Sauchie lifting them off the foot of the table as McLeish’s new squad of players begin to gel together.

McLeish believes those two results have gone someway to silencing the doubters, with many tipping Burgh to struggle this season given the turnover in playing staff at Oliveabank over the summer.

He said: “The last two results have been massive for us, particularly last Wednesday against Newtongrange. To go to somewhere like Newtongrange and to get a win and keep a clean sheet is unbelievable really as they are a top team.

“I think the boys had a bit to prove to people who had been doubting them and I think they’ve went some way towards showing they can play together as a team.

“When you bring in nearly a full squad of players it’s going to take time, but having said that I’ve never once doubted any of the signings and I think they are all their on merit. We’ve got a lot of winners in the team and they know their way around a game of football.”

Defender Scott Swaney has signed for Musselburgh from league rivals Newtongrange Star and goes straight into tomorrow’s squad, while Jackie Myles and Kameran Tufail are suspended.

Elsewhere, Newtongrange look to get their league bid back on track after two straight defeats when they host Sauchie at New Victoria Park. Bonnyrigg Rose and Penicuik Athletic will both be looking to return to winning ways with respective trips to Camelon and Broughty, while unbeaten Linlithgow Rose host Hill of Beath at Prestonfield.