Strollers star Matty not caught in parent trap

Civil Service Strollers manager Alex Cunningham

Civil Service Strollers manager Alex Cunningham

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Having your dad as the manager tends to stir up some banter amongst team-mates both in and away from the dressing room. That’s not the case, however, at Civil Service Strollers where midfielder Matty Cunningham has full support of the players around him.

Some would perceive that having his dad, Alex, at the helm as an added luxury for the 24-year-old. But Cunningham revealed that his team-mates aren’t ones for dishing out the customary ribbing you would expect. But Cunningham revealed that his team-mates aren’t ones for dishing out the customary ribbing you would expect.

Ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Whitehill Welfare, Cunningham said: “The rest of the squad actually see it quite differently to what you’d normally see going around changing rooms.

“I’ve been playing quite well recently so they don’t really see it as I’m only playing because I’m the manager’s laddie. My dad was lot harder with me when I was younger I can tell you that! But they honestly don’t take the mick out of me which is good from my perspective. They’re a really good bunch to be around but I know nothing is guaranteed, especially at this level, so I know if I hit a bad patch of form then I’ll be out the side.”

Strollers went the whole of last month unbeaten and have suffered just two Lowland League defeats since the beginning of October. Last weekend’s epic 4-3 win over bottom-of-the-table Preston Athletic moved the Christie Gillies Park side up to tenth place and to within two points of tomorrow’s opponents. Success tomorrow could mean Strollers end the weekend as high as fifth depending on results elsewhere.

“We knew last weekend was going to be a real hard one because there was a lot at stake for both teams,” Cunningham admitted. “I think it’s put a marker down and I see no reason why we can’t keep heading in the right direction. I think we’ve really come into our own these last few months. It’s crazy that we’ve got the chance to overtake the likes of Whitehill with a win tomorrow.

“It was difficult the first couple of weeks having just come up from the East of Scotland and the main aim at the start of the season was to remain in the division. But I think we should be okay now and I don’t see why we can’t challenge up the top end of the table, even go for fifth perhaps. Apart from East Kilbride, I haven’t really seen anything that causes us too much concern. It was a bit of a worry at the beginning but I think we can approach the second half of the season with a lot of confidence.”

New Whitehill captain Steven Manson, meanwhile, is relishing the role he has been afforded by manager David Bingham but insists it is up to the more senior players of the squad to shoulder some of the responsibility too.

“It’s nice to be given the captaincy as it shows you must be doing something right in the manager’s eyes,” the 30-year-old said. “But it’s important that all the senior players help the younger ones when out on the pitch. We have a really young squad at the moment and we have probably had to field more youngsters than most teams due to suspensions, injuries and various other reasons.

“The club is probably more in a position now where it has to try and develop players as opposed to being able to buy players on big signing-on fees.”

On tomorrow’s visit to north Edinburgh, Manson added: “Playing Civil away from home, it’s a big wide park and we have struggled down there in the past. We played well that day (when Whitehill won 4-0 in November) and put the game to bed early on so we need to try and put in a similar level of performance if we are to take all three points tomorrow.”

Elsewhere, Spartans will hope to build on last weekend’s victory over Whitehill when they make the short journey to the Pennypit to play Preston.

Edinburgh University are in action at Ochilview against hosts East Stirlingshire.