New Tranent Juniors manager Max Christie has revealed the ambition shown by the club convinced him to take charge of the Premier League outfit.
Christie was out of work for just several weeks after quitting his post as Super League Broxburn Athletic boss in November, sighting how he had lost his love for the job.
The former Stenhousemuir midfielder had planned to take some time out of the game, but after meeting up with Tranent chairman Matthew Wright, he was bowled over by his vision for the club and decided to snap up his job offer last week.
Christie was in charge of Broxburn in June when Kenny Fisher’s last-minute strike ended Tranent’s 40-year wait for cup silverware, winning the Fife and Lothians Cup final, so he’s seen first-hand the potential of the club – although he’s already banned his players from talking about that success.
“I got a phone call from the owner and he asked me to meet him for a coffee; and I did,” said Christie. “Having spoken to him, it got me going a bit and then I met him again and decided to go for it.
“I had no plans to get back into the game. I was not resigning from Broxburn with an eye on Tranent Juniors. I was planning to go and watch the Hibs and Sheffield United. . . and then my phone rang.
“Their managers, Kenny Rafferty and Darren Smith, had done a remarkable job winning two cups last year and beating half of the Super League. Sometimes it is quickly forgotten what managers achieved. We knew there was a good side there and for whatever reason keeping it going has not been easy. Hopefully we can get them back playing to the way they were and see how we go.
“Tranent beat us in a semi-final last year and they beat us in a final – of course they aren’t allowed to talk about that when I walk in; that’s one of the rules.
“That cup final we played, they delayed the kick-off by 15 minutes to let the Tranent supporters in; I think there was 2000 at the game. They are probably the best supported team in East Lothian; I would say that without argument. The interest in the club is massive and the potential is there to go and win things.”
Which is exactly the goal Christie has already set himself. He’s aiming to take the Belters up a level to the Super League next season. The early season Premier League title favourites haven’t lived up to their billing so far, but Christie reckons automatic promotion should be a realistic target for next season.
Behind him, he has brought in former Newtongrange Star manager Alan Miller, who cut his stay at Bo’ness United alongside Allan McGonigal short after joining the BUs in the summer – while Miller’s backroom team of Ian Black and Finlay Wells have joined too.
“I knew Alan was available,” continued Christie. “He had been at Linlithgow then Bo’ness. Alan won the Super League with Bonnyrigg and the Premier League with Nitten, so I’d say I have a good management team around me. The sole objective is to get us into the Super League.
“It’s a difficult league, a really competitive league but one we want to win to get into the Super League. That’s the remit, call it what you want, that’s the task in hand. I would think we are a wee bit off the pace just now, realistically, but that’s not to say we’re not going to try and win as many games of football as we can between now and the end of the season.
“I know the boys; I’ve seen them play enough and analysed them enough, so I know they all have a level of ability, it’s just whether we can do it more consistently.”
Elsewhere, Newtongrange will hope to get their Scottish Junior Cup third-round tie at home to Cumbernauld United ahead at the fourth time of asking having not played since November 18. Musselburgh Athletic are scheduled to visit Hurlford United, while Linlithgow Rose travel to Oakley United.