ROOKIE manager Max Christie will have the man who owned football’s most famous duffle coat giving him earache when he faces his biggest test so far as Bonnyrigg boss.
Rose make the short journey to Newtongrange Star tomorrow for a mouth-watering second-round clash in the Scottish Junior Cup (2.30pm kick-off).
The fact it’s a local derby is interesting enough – but this one has added spice.
Alan Miller, the man who led Bonnyrigg to the Super League title three seasons ago, is now the Newtongrange manager, having moved there just before the end of last season after a hasty exit from New Dundas Park.
Miller is renowned for his bellowing cries from the touchline – but Christie reckons he’ll have competition tomorrow for the loudest voice.
That’s because his dad Terry, the former Meadowbank, Stenhousemuir and Alloa manager, will be in the bumper crowd expected at New Victoria Park.
“Dad will be there so that means I’ll need the ear plugs in,” joked Christie Jnr, who is proving a chip off the old block in the managerial game.
After a sluggish start to the season in the League Cup qualifiers, Rose are on a roll.
They’ve won their last three matches – against St Andrews United, Musselburgh and Lochee – to open up a three-point lead at the top of the Super League table.
“We’re playing with a bit of confidence at the moment, which is great,” added Christie, whose No. 2 is former Bonnyrigg favourite Steve Ellison.
“Every game in the Super League is like a cup final and you’ve got to be right at it to come out on top.
“For some reason, we’ve not started games well, giving teams a goal of a start, but we’ve shown the right attitude to come back from such setbacks.
“From humble beginnings in pre-season and in the League Cup, we know what we are capable of as a team now but all we’ve done so far is make a good start to the Super League campaign.”
The mark Miller made on the Bonnyrigg team is still evident, with the likes of Sean Grady, David Burrell, Sean Paliczka, David Dunn, Ryan McCallum and Kevin McLeish all now important players for Christie.
At the same time, though, the new Bonnyrigg manager has made his stamp on the side with a number of key signings.
Ross Archibald, now the club captain, and Alex King both arrived from Spartans, while Steven Thompson and Stuart Roseburgh, the latter taking a circuitous route via Linlithgow, were two key players at Newtongrange under Graeme Armstrong.
Add in goalkeeper Mark Weir, Jamie Ewart and a clutch of youngsters and Christie feels he’s got a useful squad at his disposal.
“In addition to five or six stalwarts from Windy’s team, which was a good side already, we’ve managed to add some more good players and the Bonnyrigg committee deserve a lot of praise for that,” noted Christie.
“There’s no big benefactor at the club but people are working so hard here to try and make things happen.
“Alex King and Ross Archibald were two of the best players in the East of Scotland League and we are delighted they’re now playing for us.
“They’re what I would describe as ‘try-hard footballers’ – they have a great attitude.”
Thompson and Roseburgh both helped Newtongrange earn promotion to the Super League under Armstrong.
They left in the summer following the club’s drop back down to the Premier Division, where they are currently lying fifth, seven points behind leaders Tayport.
Miller’s men lost to Linlithgow in the final of the League Cup a fortnight ago before drawing 1-1 at home with Sauchie last weekend. Now the Newtongrange manager will be determined to try and put one over on his old club.
“There’s a lot of interest in this game, that’s for sure,” admitted Christie. “It means more to Windy [Miller] than me for obvious reasons but, at the same time, I’d say this is the biggest game of my managerial career so far. I heard that Windy had been saying he’d have preferred if it was at Bonnyrigg – but I don’t know why.
“It’s a game everyone is looking forward to and, on the big pitch at Newtongrange, I’d also like to think it will be a good game of football.”
Roseburgh’s return to Newtongrange is likely to be on the bench, the winger having to wait patiently for his chance after leaving Linlithgow a few weeks ago to join Bonnyrigg.
“Stuart is desperate to get into the team but, at the same time, he knows he’s walked into a side that’s unbeaten in the Super League and flying at the moment,” said the manager.
“He’s handling it well, to be fair, and I know that he is going to be a big player for Bonnyrigg.”
Christie himself has his sights set on becoming a big manager for the Midlothian club and, win or lose tomorrow, he expects his dad to go through Bonnyrigg’s performance with a fine toothcomb.
“I think you could imagine what he’s like,” he said. “He’ll be telling me where we went wrong in certain aspects and what we should be doing.
“But, at the same time, he knows that I couldn’t be at a better club [in terms of cutting my managerial teeth].”