Former Edinburgh University boss Dorian Ogunro opens up on his 11 years as first-time coach at Lowland League club

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With 23 years of university football under his belt, it's fair to assume Dorian Ogunro's presence will be sorely missed at East Peffermill next season.

The student outfit announced last week that Ogunro would be leaving his position as first-team coach after 11 years at the helm as the club bids to 'improve its position in Scottish senior football and British university and college sport'.

The former Scottish Universities boss admits it has been a whirlwind managing, firstly in the East of Scotland League, before making the step up in 2013 to try their hand as a Lowland League side. They have remained a mainstay ever since, although should Brechin City triumph in this month's Pyramid play-off, the uni would be relegated after finishing the 2022/23 campaign second bottom in the standings.

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However, the former Scottish Universities player won't be around to take charge next term regardless the division the team are playing in.

Former Edinburgh University boss Dorian Ogunro. Picture: Mark Brown.Former Edinburgh University boss Dorian Ogunro. Picture: Mark Brown.
Former Edinburgh University boss Dorian Ogunro. Picture: Mark Brown.

It has been a long journey for the university alumni and one that he is immensely proud of.

"I was a student there, I was a coach for the under-21s then first-team coach so I know every facet of uni football," Ogunro told the Evening News. "It's been a long 23 years from when I started my degree and playing, but I have some unbelievable memories. I've had an amazing time and I've become a far better coach and a far better person during my time.

"We've had some fantastic results, we've won the BUCS, cups and when you put it all into context, we've had a reasonable amount of success. And just staying in the Lowland League falls under that bracket too.

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"The players have just been amazing, and I mean that genuinely. When I first came involved in coaching, we were East of Scotland but then the club's president Alan Chainey got us the upgrades to Peffermill and if it wasn't for him our step up to the Lowland League wouldn't have happened. The first couple of years in we more than held our own.

I'm really proud of the fact that I've been part of their development and it's great when I get a text from ex-players to let me know how they're getting on, where they are in the world and what they are doing career-wise. It makes me smile."

However, Ogunro revealed the job hasn't been without its challenges during his long tenure. At times, he felt his hands were tied due to a lack of support from those above.

"I've done my best to keep us at this level under very difficult circumstances and I don't want to see that go to waste," he explained. "At the end of the day I just want to see the club do as well as it possibly can.

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"Every season we try and bring in new things to help the players - whether it be analysis, sport psychology, get others to help us for free, and the players embrace it and they give 100 per cent. There's only so far you can go with that and they need more help - that's where the problems lie.

"It's not as if we have the lowest budget in the league - there is no budget for players. If the club go down, it's not for the want of the players and coaches doing everything they can. We haven't changed in terms of how we recruit, how we retain and support - it's been like groundhog day. It's almost impossible without the necessary resources.

"If the team had been supported the right way over the last ten years, then the work me and the rest of the coaches have been doing, it would have had a greater effect.

"Sometimes we have lacked quality, there's no doubt about that. This season we struggled because we didn't have the experience - we lost ten players from the year before which, if they'd still been here, more than half of them would have started every week.

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"And that's not a dig at the ones we did have, some of them are still very young - we had a 17-year-old who played 53 games this season which is just ridiculous. A young guy shouldn't have to shoulder that kind of responsibility.

"We always want to keep the club at the highest level possible. It's important to remember they are not full-time players, they are full-time students. They train twice a week for an hour and a half and we get a lot of plaudits for our fitness but that's because they work so hard. They do everything we ask. This has been the first season the players haven't had to pay a subscription fee.

"But the Lowland League has changed since its inception. There's a pathway now to SPFL football and clubs have had to change. But the uni hasn't."

He continued: "Going forward I would urge the club to support the players properly. And if they don't then they're going to struggle. I am in no position now to tell the club what to do but if they want to succeed, they have to support the guys on and off the field.

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"Heriot-Watt are playing East of Scotland but they've got scholarships, Glasgow have scholarships, Stirling have scholarships and bursaries so what are Edinburgh doing?

"I'll take a wee break and then hopefully something else will come up. I love coaching and I think I've got a lot to offer. I love coaching and that will never change."