Bonnyrigg Rose winger Ross Gray knew things would come good for Linlithgow Rose despite spending a tumultuous year at the Prestonfield club last season.
Gray, who was initially brought to Linlithgow by manager David McGlynn at the start of last season, ended up playing under four managers at the club in a campaign which almost ended in relegation from the Super League for the first time.
Current manager Mark Bradley came in latterly towards the end of last season after the ship had been steadied by interim managers Jimmy Crease and Alan Miller, and their fortunes so far this season couldn’t have been more stark.
The Prestonfield men travel to Bonnyrigg tomorrow to take on the pre-season Super League title favourites. They sit top of the league on a nine-game winning run in all competitions and can extend their lead to eight points with victory over David White’s Bonnyrigg.
“It was difficult at Linlithgow with the season that we had last year. On the park you could feel the tension from stands when you were playing, so it wasn’t enjoyable every week, but I enjoyed playing with the boys there,” said Gray, who combines playing part-time football with running a full-time soccer academy with former Berwick Rangers team-mate David Gold.
“They had offered me a new deal towards the end of last season. There was no manager for four or five weeks and we never really knew what was happening, then Mark came in and wanted to have a look. He offered me a contract but by that time I had made my mind up that I wanted to play a wee bit closer to home as things are that busy with coaching now.
“It will be a tough game as they’ve obviously been on a really good run. It’s no surprise they are doing well with the boys they have brought in.
“It’s an important game for us to win. They are obviously going strong but it’s the middle of November. It’s important for us to win but it’s a long season and there’s load of games still to play. Every game when you want to win the league is a must win, so we’ll not be treating it any differently to any other game. If we get beat, then we’ll take the next game after that.”
It was Robbie Horn who brought Gray to New Dundas Park in the summer. But just as the 25-year-old was starting to make his mark in the Rose starting XI, Horn was departing for Berwick and so Gray had another new manager to try and impress.
He continued: “I knew there could be a risk of that when I came in [Horn leaving], because I knew how good a job he had done and I thought it would be a matter of time before someone would come in and snap him up. When the Berwick job came up for grabs I think most of the boys seen it coming.
“I’d come in and Robbie hadn’t really seen me play for a couple of years. I got myself into the squad just as he was leaving, then when Whitey came in, he’d worked with all the other boys before when he was a coach and had never really seen me play so for the first couple of games he played the boys he knew. When he came in it was like sort of starting all over again to impress. I knew I had to bide my time.
“When a new manager comes in it’s going to take time to gel. I know we’ve got a strong squad and we’ll be up there at the end of the season competing.”
Linlithgow boss Bradley is expecting to face a fired-up Bonnyrigg after the maroon Rose ended their title hopes in the penultimate league game last season.
He said: “I would imagine they’ll have it in the back of their minds. I think quite a lot of the boys that were in that team are still there, but we play for Linlithgow and teams are always fired up when we come and play at there place and it won’t be anything different.
“We’ll go for the win as we always do. If we can go to Bonnyrigg and get something – three points would be great – we’ll be one of the few teams to do that this year because they are strong side and it will be a hard game.”