Mickey Lawson is intent on guiding Whitehill to a Scottish Cup victory over league opposition for the first time in his career this weekend – even if it means knocking out the club that gave him his best days as a player.
The Rosewell club travel to Forthbank on Saturday to face SPFL League Two side Stirling Albion in the second round of the competition.
Lawson spent five fruitful seasons as a striker with the Binos in the Seventies, and netted 117 goals in all competitions before being sold to St Johnstone for £20,000 in 1976. While he retains fond memories of his time at Stirling, he is fully focused on trying to accomplish something he did plenty times at Spartans but never quite managed in his two previous spells as manager of Whitehill – ousting league opposition.
“I managed it with Spartans a few times at the old City Park,” the 64-year-old explained. “We’ve knocked on the door a couple of times with Whitehill against league sides but have never quite managed to beat them. We’ve always been able to compete and if there is anything I would like to do before I retire from management then it is to win a Scottish Cup tie against a senior league side for Whitehill.”
The trip along the M9 represents a homecoming for an individual who isn’t short on memory from his time spent with the then Annfield club, Albion’s former home before they relocated to Forthbank 20 years ago.
Citing his days with Saturday’s opponents as his most clinical in front of goal, Lawson is looking forward to catching up with some of his former team-mates.
“It was certainly my most productive spell as a professional,” he recalls. “Of all my five years at Stirling, I don’t recall being injured and if I ever did miss a match, it was only the one here or there.
“I had quite a few injuries after moving to St Johnstone where I think my confidence was dented and I also ended up playing mostly in midfield. I remember scoring for Stirling Albion in the Scottish Cup at Parkhead in 1974 and Kenny Dalglish and all those guys were playing.
“I also played in Billy Bremner’s testimonial as he brought the Leeds team up that won the old First Division and they were just simply superb – players like Johnny Giles and Joe Jordan and we were only beaten 3-2.
“Of course I went back and played against Stirling and was actually in goals for St Johnstone as the goalie broke his arm and I went in and had a shut-out. But this is the first time I will have been there as a manager and it will be like going home again – it’s definitely a bigger game for myself than anyone else at Whitehill.
“I’ve been looking up photos and seeing some old friends who I will be meeting up with this weekend – guys like George Nicol and Rab Duffin, who played with me in the early Seventies and some of them I haven’t seen in over 30 years which is quite scary when you sit down and think about it.”
Lawson guided Spartans into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup in 2006, when they took a St Mirren side containing Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam to a replay before losing 3-0 at Love Street. The manager added: “I’ve been lucky while I have been with Whitehill and Spartans for so many years where we’ve been challenging for everything in the East of Scotland set-up.
“But when the Scottish Cup comes around, it’s the only competition that we realistically don’t have a chance of winning so it’s just a case of the management and players going out and enjoying ourselves. We’re looking forward to our day on Saturday but we’ll only enjoy it if we do ourselves justice. There’s no pressure on us and I believe if the football gods are looking down then we’ll have a chance.”