Captain McConnell eager to fulfil role as mentor to young Strollers in Lowland League

Civil Service Strollers skipper Mark McConnell is hoping to make just as big an impact on the park as he is off it.

By Neil McGlade
Saturday, 24th July 2021, 7:56 am
Updated Saturday, 24th July 2021, 7:57 am
Civil Service Strollers captain Mark McConnell gets ahead of Phil Addison of Gala Fairydean Rovers
Civil Service Strollers captain Mark McConnell gets ahead of Phil Addison of Gala Fairydean Rovers

The 27-year-old is relishing the role as team captain at Christie Gilles Park and while he is eager to stamp his authority in the heart of the Strollers midfield this season, the former Edinburgh City player is hoping to extend his influence on a more interpersonal level as well.

Gary Jardine's men recovered from a disappointing opening-day defeat to Dalbeattie Star to register a 3-2 win over Edinburgh University on Tuesday night and are now plotting a second win in just four days when Bonnyrigg Rose come calling tomorrow.

"I really want to help and develop the younger ones' game as much as I can, knowing what is expected of the manager," McConnell explained. "And that's not just out on the pitch as there are a lot of other things that go into being a good football player. We've got some really talented individuals and with age on their side, they have a real chance to progress, whether that be at Civil or elsewhere."

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McConnell was thrilled with his team-mates' resilience to come back from a 2-1 half-time deficit against the students.

"The big thing for us was to get our first points of the new season on the board because you never want to start off with back-to-back defeats," he said. "It was a bit of a rollercoaster of a match but I felt we had control of the game. We just had a couple of sloppy errors at the back, which proved costly at the time, but we dug in the second half to come back.

"We know it's going to be tough tomorrow and we will need to be at our best if we are to take anything from the match. The boys have been together at Bonnyrigg for a few years so they know each other inside out. They've always got a good team spirit and most importantly, they're good players.

"We're still a relatively new team with the players the manager has brought in over the summer, so we know they will be favourites going into the game. They drew on Wednesday night [0-0 against Cumbernauld Colts] so will be looking for the win if they are to be challenging for the league come the end of the season.

"But, on our day, we can more than match the top teams in the league. We've shown that in previous seasons so there is nothing to fear in terms of the opposition."

Meanwhile, Rose boss Robbie Horn said: "We'll probably make a couple of changes tomorrow but that is what your squad is there for. It's a really tough league. We watched Civil on Tuesday night [against Edinburgh University] and it was a really competitive game. We just need to make sure we take care of our own business and having drawn on Wednesday night, we want to take three points and that's what we'll be aiming to do."

Elsewhere, Capital rivals Spartans host Edinburgh University at Ainslie Park with both sides looking to bounce back from disappointing midweek defeats.

The hosts lost 2-0 to Rangers B while the students came up just short against Strollers.