Veteran ready for jeers from fans – home and away

Ex-Bathgate ace Willie Wilson, right, now plays under Mark Bradley, left
Ex-Bathgate ace Willie Wilson, right, now plays under Mark Bradley, left
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WILLIE WILSON reckons he could feel like the “Pantomime Baddie” tomorrow – by having two sets of fans booing him.

The former Bathgate defender is still trying to win over the Linlithgow faithful after being snapped up as cover by Mark Bradley earlier in the season.

That followed the 40-year-old’s departure from Bo’ness, where he’d been Paul Ronald’s No. 2, and, now wearing the Lithgae maroon, he’s likely to get a hot reception from their fans as well.

He’ll find out at Prestonfield tomorrow, when Rose entertain their local rivals in a top-of-the-table clash (1.45pm kick-off) in the Super League. “It could be a strange one for me and I’ve not got a clue how the Bo’ness fans will react to me,” admitted Wilson. “I 
enjoyed my time there last 
season with Paul Ronald, but that’s in the past now.

“There are plenty of former Bo’ness players in our team, the likes of Derek Fleming and Andy Shirra, so it’s not as though I’ll be the only one who might be unpopular.

“The Linlithgow fans still give me stick, never mind the Bo’ness fans. But that’s fine with me. I’m old enough to take things like that. If they are giving me abuse, it means they might be leaving one of the younger ones alone so that’s maybe not a bad thing.”

Wilson came off the bench at half-time at Bonnyrigg last weekend after Fleming was taken off as a precaution when he felt some tightness in his hamstring.

In a minor re-shuffle by Bradley, the former Airdrie player slotted in at right-back and gave a good account of himself as Lithgae won 2-1 to stay nine points clear at the top of the table. “I’ve been here two months now and I played 90 minutes against Musselburgh when Billy Gibson was unwell,” added Wilson. “I loved that and the 45 minutes I got against Bonnyrigg and I’ll be ready and raring to go whenever required.

“I’ve always kept myself fit and I would have continued playing last season if Bathgate had retained me. That made it hard as no-one is going to pay any money for a 40-year-old.

“I was delighted when the chance to join Linlithgow came up this season, it’s not often you get a chance like that as a 20-year-old never mind at my age. I’ve loved it so far. The boys have been brilliant. I will just need to bide my time and if I’m needed I’ll be there for the gaffer.

“It’s hard to get into any 
Linlithgow team, never mind one that is going as well as this one, but I’m experienced enough – I’m not a wee boy anymore – and know there’s no point screaming or shouting about this or that.

“When my services are 
required, I’ll be ready to do my bit and hopefully the fans could see that against Bonnyrigg last Saturday.”

Bradley is delighted to have someone with Wilson’s nous in his squad and reckons other clubs missed the boat by not trying to sign him.

“Willie has bags of experience and he’s also a fit lad due to the fact he looks after himself. He’s built like the side of a pound note – there’s nothing to him,” said the Rose manager.

“I can’t believe anyone else didn’t take a chance with him at the start of the season. He’s not cost us any money yet he brings a lot to the table.

“I think he can do us a turn this season by filling in when we need him, just as he did 
in the second-half against 
Bonnyrigg.”

Lithgae are unbeaten in the league this season but are probably set to face their stiffest test yet against a Bo’ness team that is beginning to build up a head of steam with Allan McGonigal back at the helm.

“It’s a massive game for both clubs,” admitted Wilson. “I’ve been involved in these games in the past and the atmosphere at them is great. Touch wood, with a bit of luck we’ll come out on top.”

On the job former Hearts man Bradley is doing in his first full season as Rose manager, he added: “The gaffer seems to have taken to the management side without any problems whatsoever. It’s only a couple of years since he was still playing himself and I was delighted when he got the job full-time after serving in an interim basis for a spell last season.

“Last season he inherited a squad. This season it’s a squad he’s either signed or wanted to keep at the club. He’s got them playing football exactly how he thinks the game should be played.

“It’s got to be the old cliche of taking one game at a time. If we keep winning there’s 
nothing teams will be able to do to catch us.

“We need to keep churning out the results. There’s pressure on you at a club like this to win Super League titles and 
Scottish Cups at least once 
every two years.

“I think 2007 was the last time Linlithgow won the league title so it’s about time one was delivered for the fans again and hopefully we can do that this year.”