Bonnyrigg Rose defender Kerr Young explains squad's goal for League 2 campaign

It should have come as no surprise to hear Bonnyrigg Rose stand-in captain Kerr Young insist that his team are targeting promotion this season.

Young says the Lowland League champions have no intention of just making up the numbers in League Two. It’s just not in their DNA.

A winning mentality and an incredible team spirit has served Bonnyrigg well in recent years under Robbie Horn, who has retained the bulk of the squad who won the juniors’ East Region Super League in 2017-18 and the East of Scotland League the following season when the club switched ranks.

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Stepping up to the SPFL for the first time means changes are required off the pitch, but don’t expect to see major alterations on it. The formula will stay the same.

Bonnyrigg captain Kerr Young, right, in action against Hearts at Tynecastle. Picture Roddy Scott / SNS

The Midlothian club don’t have a sugar daddy to bankroll a tilt at the League Two title in their inaugural season, but they can always bank on continuity, consistency and togetherness.

Two new signings have arrived over the summer – experienced striker Kevin Smith from East Fife and promising midfielder Conor Doan from Stirling University. But the rest of the squad has not changed. Horn is keeping the faith.

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Young, Rose’s player of the year last season, knows the group won’t settle for survival. He insists the goal is to challenge for a top-four place and promotion to League 1. That’s just how they approach things at Bonnyrigg.

“We are going to try our best to try and get promoted again,” explained the centre-back. “We’re not going to go there to just to take part. We’ll do what we can.

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Bonnyrigg defender Alan Horne steps between Michael Smith and Cammy Devlin at Tynecastle Park. Picture: Joe Gilhooley LRPS

“We have a great spirit, we’re all pals. We’ve been together for years now, and that’s what the gaffer has built. I’m sure we’ll do alright.”

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He was speaking after a 5-0 pre-season drubbing at the hands of Hearts, but far from being a chastening experience it was an ideal workout for a Bonnyrigg team who will kick-start their season away to Clyde in the Premier Sports Cup on Wednesday before hosting Hibs and Falkirk back-to-back in the same competition.

They needed exposure to full-time opposition in preparation and know that the League Two campaign itself won’t include matches as demanding.

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Bonnyrigg were missing several key men, including captain Jonny Stewart, but after a rocky opening ten minutes kept Robbie Neilson’s men out until just before half time thanks to a solid defensive shape and good organisation.

Bonnyrigg forward Scott Gray is put under pressure by Hearts defender Stephen Kingsley. Picture: Joe Gilhooley LRPS
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“Hearts have got good players, so you’ve just got to give a good account of yourself and I think we did that in the first half,” reflected Young. “In the second half, we lost a soft penalty, we made some changes and we tired.

“They’ve got some quality, like Liam Boyce, his touch is a different level. Their movement was a test for me.

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“We are a part-time team, we’ve not long finished the season so it’s good to get the fitness in. For me, being a Hearts fan, playing out there was brilliant. It was some experience.”

Horn is also keeping things in perspective. “It was difficult, but the boys did remarkably well given that we’ve not been back training that long,” he said.

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Bonnyrigg full-back Dean Brett tries to get a cross in under pressure from Jorge Grant. Picture: Joe Gilhooley LRPS

“I’m just delighted that we got the opportunity to come here. Robbie text me after the Premier Sports Cup draw had been made and said do you fancy coming to Tynecastle. I’m not going to turn that down.

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“It was a great opportunity and a great experience playing out there on a fantastic surface.”

Bonnyrigg sub Kieran Hall is chased by Hearts midfielder Cammy Devlin. Picture: Joe Gilhooley LRPS