Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Ryan Harding delighted with club's temporary new home
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Ryan Harding hopes a move to Spartans’ Ainslie Park as a temporary home can give his young side the freedom to play how they want to.
Lothian have switched from their Saughton Enclosure base and will play all their home matches in North Edinburgh this season, starting with the East of Scotland League curtain raiser against Musselburgh Athletic tonight (kick-off 7.30pm).
The much-maligned Edinburgh Council-run surface has been a headache for Harding in recent seasons, so he’s pleased with the move.
Harding said: “Saughton is still the club’s home, we have our ladies team and our 17s team playing on it. We just want to get to a standard where it is appealing and it’s football. We just want to get the ball down and play.
“It is hard for the council because they are trying to maintain it to get to a level to play East of Scotland games, but then six or seven days or nights of the week you have athletics on it, then once the rain comes it makes the pitch unplayable
“No disrespect to Saughton, it’s a Friday night game kicking off the season, and what is more appealing as a fan and as a player? It just looks like a pitch built for this level.”
Lothian took everyone by surprise with their start to last season’s curtailed campaign, winning their first five opening league matches, including an opening day 3-2 defeat of tonight’s opponents at Olivebank.
Harding continued: “It was a great start for us last season. I think going into it, most people tipped us to be fighting relegation and I think this year people won’t expect us to challenge. We remain quiet, fly under the radar, and just do our own business.”
Musselburgh go into tonight’s match without a manager after Kevin Milne’s sudden departure last Sunday after just four weeks at the helm, with Liam Burns and Liam Todd put in temporary charge. Harding expects Burgh’s players to be fully focussed.
Harding added: “Musselburgh are still the exact same team as last season which was tipping to be one of the favourites. They got off to a slow start last season but as the season went on they were picking up results. When you have a team like that with so many experienced players there is enough about the place to get them going. They are a well-run club, and in time they will get someone in there.”
Elsewhere, Broxburn Athletic host Penicuik Athletic at Albyn Park tomorrow and Brox boss Chris Townsley is keen to get off to a good start.
“I thought it was pointless playing without supporters last season, it just put an extra burden on the clubs, so it is good to get back to almost normal,” said Townsley.
“It’s a big game to kick off the season, I would expect a close game. Penicuik have had the upper hand on us recently so all the boys are determined to put that right. The players are all excited about it, and if you start the season off well it gives you that confidence and encouragement going into the next run of fixtures, so a positive result could set us up for a good start to the season.”