Defeating local rivals Newtongrange Star to secure a last-16 place in the Scottish Junior Cup tomorrow would mean more to Bonnyrigg Rose defender Neil Martynuik than most.
Not only did the former Hibs youth player cross the Midlothian divide in the summer switching blue for red, but his dad, Walter, is part of Star’s backroom staff.
Goalkeeping coach Walter was key in securing a loan move for his son from League Two Edinburgh City to Star last season, with Newtongrange manager Stevie McLeish also one of 21-year-old Martynuik’s lecturers at the Borders College.
“I had played all the pre-season games at City and in the Betfred Cup but then as soon as it came to the season the manager [Gary Jardine] left me out the team and never really spoke to me, to be honest,” said Martyunik.
“I think maybe six weeks went by and I was sitting in the stand when they were getting beat every week and I just thought: ‘Enough is enough.’ At the time, I was 20 years old and just wanted to play. I knew Stevie really well through college and my dad, and he was brilliant with me. He said ‘come to Newtongrange, you’ll play and you’ll get your confidence back and get better playing first-team football’. I owe a lot to him for that.
“Being at Newtongrange last season, Stevie and Murray [Hunter, assistant coach] were brilliant. I was playing a lot and I did really well for myself. I’m excited to play against them. It’s a massive game, probably our biggest of the season so far being our local rivals and it being in the Scottish Cup. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Not that there will be time for reflection tomorrow when, weather permitting, Rose will host their nearest rivals in the perfect pre-show to another derby taking place in the Scottish Cup this weekend. Bonnyrigg have been working hard to get the game on, with hardy committee members clearing the snow from their pitch in midweek and covers set to go down today.
Left-back Martynuik feels he is finally starting to demonstrate what he’s capable of having been given a run of games under manager David White, after being in and out of the team initially. Not that he expected to walk straight in to a settled back line from the start.
“I knew I would have to be patient and bide my time when I first came in because there’s a lot of good, experienced players,” he continued. “The boys that had been playing in front of me, they’ve been terrific, the team has been playing well and scoring lots of goals.
“It was frustrating to start with and I was just sort of waiting for my chance really. I’ve sort of grasped that over the last few weeks and I’m hoping to keep that going. I’m just making sure that I’m playing well every week so the manager keeps picking me and I can’t be left out.
“We’re on a great run, we’re unbeaten into January which is terrific for all the boys. We’re just looking to keep that run going.”
Dad Walter has already threatened to give his son a dose of the ‘runs’ come Saturday afternoon, revealed Martynuik, in what has been a quiet household this week ahead of the big game.
He added: “It’s a funny one with my dad because before every game we wish each other luck and then after games we chat and find out how we’ve both got on.
“This week has been a bit quiet. All he said to me at the start of the week was ‘I hope you play well but I hope Newtongrange win’ which is understandable for him.
“There’s mutual respect there so we’re not asking each other many questions. He jokingly said earlier that he’s going to put laxatives in my breakfast on Saturday morning. My mum is always told to stay out the picture when it comes to football, but she’ll probably be hoping that we win this weekend.”
• For those wishing to assist in helping to remove covers from New Dundas Park on Saturday morning, please check the Bonnyrigg Rose official Twitter account @Bonnyriggrose81 for updates.