THE man trying to take Bonnyrigg Rose to a Scottish Junior Cup Final may not wear a duffel coat but there’s no doubting the fact he’s a chip off the old block.
Max Christie learned from a master as he listened eagerly to dad Terry’s team talks as a youngster and stored it in his memory bank.
He had big boots to fill after the various levels of success enjoyed by Christie Snr, famous for wearing a duffel coat, at clubs like Meadowbank Thistle, Alloa Athletic and Stenhousemuir. But a new managerial star in the family could be in the making if Max’s first full season in charge at Bonnyrigg is anything to go by.
Rose are still in the hunt for the Super League title as well as two cup competitions in the East Region, but an even bigger prize could be theirs at the end of the season.
On Sunday, Christie’s men are in action in the semi-finals of the Junior Cup and face the biggest test of their mettle so far, against holders Auchinleck Talbot.
It’s a two-legged affair and the Bonnyrigg boss admitted he’ll be drawing on his dad’s experience in his bid to fell the Ayrshire giants.
“He was the only manager who gave me a game,” quipped Christie before acknowledging his father’s influence on his fledgling managerial career.
“I remember being eight or nine and sitting listening to him giving his team talks when he was the manager of Lothians Schools,” he added.
“John Robertson and Gary Mackay were in the team and I was the wee laddie sitting in the corner taking it all in.
“He taught me how to conduct myself in the game, how to set up teams and also how to handle players. I still listen to him – many others as well – and it’s been great to see him coming along to our games this season.
“He’s watched us win a lot of games and has told me to enjoy myself while it lasts. Good teams win things, and we’ve not won anything yet.
“We need to finish it off and we are in a good position to do that heading into the final few weeks of the season.”
After pulling an away victory out of the fire at Ashfield in the fifth round, Rose won comfortably at Irvine Meadow in the quarter-finals but now face the ultimate test.
Auchinleck lifted the trophy for a record ninth team last season and are gunning for glory again after accounting for Musselburgh and Bo’ness en route to the last four.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Christie, who sent Steve Ellison, his trusty No. 2, to watch Talbot on two occasions since the semi-final draw was made a fortnight ago.
Hearts coach Gary Locke, a Bonnyrigg boy, has also been helping his hometown club after Hearts played Auchinleck in the Scottish Cup earlier in the season.
“They play with great intensity and are very workmanlike,” added the Rose manager. “I wouldn’t say they have any stand-out individuals but they are particularly strong on their left side and we’ll need to be aware of that.
“We’ll be setting the team out the same way we have most of the season and we’ll see where that takes us.
“The fact it’s over two legs means it’s new territory for me but, after winning 2-0 at Irvine Meadow in the last round, we certainly aren’t going into the tie with any fears.”
Much has been made of Rose capturing Alex King and Ross Archibald from Spartans last summer – and rightly so as they’ve been terrific all season.
Another shrewd move in the transfer market was Christie’s decision to sign goalkeeper Mark Weir, a former Scottish Youth internationalist.
“Mark was full-time with Rangers for five years, during which time he had a loan spell at Kilmarnock,” said the Bonnyrigg manager.
“Due to the economic state of the game at the moment, he was released and Brian McNaughton managed to get him as an amateur when he was in charge at Arniston. He’s only 19 and I still think he has a big future in the game.”
Rose will be without the injured Stuart Roseburgh on Sunday while mid-season signing Sean Woodburn is cup-tied, but otherwise Christie has a full squad to choose from.
“Paul Shields has been out for a couple of weeks but he’s fit again, which is a bonus,” said the Bonnyrigg boss of the former Celtic and Raith Rovers striker.
Sunday’s game at New Dundas Park kicks off at 3pm.