Colin Leiper crossed the Bo’ness-Linlithgow divide over the close season when he made the move from Newtown Park to Prestonfield and he’ll put friendliness to one side for 90 minutes on his return tomorrow.
Leiper is close friends with much of the Bo’ness squad and looks back fondly on his time with the club, most prominently a memorable William Hill Scottish Cup run which took the BUs all the way to the fourth round for the first time.
The centre-back, who joined Bo’ness last summer, has an impeccable record in the fixture having played his part as they recorded a historic treble over Rose last season, something unheard of given Linlithgow’s dominance in the derbies over the years.
All he wants is for his 100 per-cent win rate, in such a fiercely contested derby clash, to still be intact come 5.15pm tomorrow.
“I was only there for a season, but I certainly have a lot of good memories from Bo’ness in a short period of time,” said the 27-year-old defender. “Playing in the senior Scottish and a cup final was great and I’ve got a lot of respect and a lot of time for all the players that were there last season and the guys that run the club.
“It will be good to go back but at the end of the day football comes first and I’m just concentrating on going along there, putting in a good performance and coming away with three points.
“I’m sure there will be a few jokes cracked before kick-off tomorrow but when it comes to the first whistle the friendliness will be put aside and it will be a case for both sides of knuckling in and getting three points as nobody wants to come away losers after a big derby game.”
Leiper revealed he was offered the chance to extend his stay at Newtown Park at the end of the season, but having suffered with a hip problem throughout the campaign, he opted to assess his options while resting up on holiday with wife Lauren in Cyprus.
It was the lure of another crack at the Scottish Cup, with Rose given automatic entry due to their SFA licence, and the chance to work with a coach he admires in Rose boss David McGlynn, that convinced the former Raith Rovers youngster to sign on at Prestonfield.
He said: “I had been carrying a hip flexor injury for most of the season and it wouldn’t clear up as I wasn’t prepared to stop training or playing. I was part of a team last season where we had four or five of the best centre halves in the league, so I knew I was fighting for my position week in week out, hence why I didn’t want to rest.
“I told Allan McGonigal that I would be hanging off and going on holiday as I wanted to keep my options open. When I was on holiday I had contact with David McGlynn and I heard what he had to say and decided that Linlithgow, for this point in my career, was going to be the best option. I know Davy really well. I’ve known him for the best part of ten years and I rate him as a coach and as a manager very highly. The way that he likes to play the game is the way I like watching the game and that, on top of the chance of playing in the senior Scottish Cup was a big factor for me.”
Linlithgow are the only unbeaten side left in the Super League, but given four of their opening six matches have been draws, they sit three points behind their rivals, so a Bo’ness victory would open up a six-point gap. That’s something Leiper and his team-mates won’t even contemplate.
“It’s early doors in the season but we’ve got the mind frame that we’re not prepared to go to Bo’ness and get beat.
“So far we’ve got the best defensive record in the league and are still the only team yet to be beaten, albeit there’s only six games gone, and we’re determined that’s still the case on Saturday night.”