FORMER St Mirren and Alloa Athletic boss Tom Hendrie has taken on the top job at East of Scotland side Craigroyston, where his son Mark plays as a midfielder.
This weekend, Hendrie snr is back in the dugout after a seven-year managerial hiatus as Craigie look to gain a place in the third round of the South Challenge Cup at the expense of Heriot-Watt University.
“The job came about mainly because I was going down to see my son play every week,” said Hendrie, 58. “I saw the set-up at Craigroyston and the board and the committee work so hard. I got a good feeling about the place. I’ve missed being involved in the game. Recently, I’ve watched football from purely a spectator’s point of view. I was more analytical of my son’s performance rather than the team. That will change now.”
Hendrie, who spent many years as a scout at Hearts before Jim Jefferies returned for a second spell at Tynecastle and brought with him his own backroom team, is only too aware of the strengths of Heriot-Watt and his newly-inherited squad.
“Every manager has his own ideas, and I will try and play a system that sees us play to our strengths and cover up our weaknesses,” said Hendrie. “I’ve had two weeks working with the players, and we have a good blend of experience and youth. Heriot-Watt are a young, fit side. If you meet them on a good day, they can be very good. We will have to match their energy, but it will be a difficult game.”
Tomorrow’s fixture represents one of many forthcoming cup ties for Hendrie and his Craigie team, but the new boss, a mathematics teacher at Craigmount High School, has more immediate ambitions of adding enough points to his side’s league tally to claim the Premier Division title. Hendrie said: We have a strong squad of players and if we can get them playing to their best, we can win the league. That’s the immediate target. We’re second at the moment, and it will be down to who manages to produce a strong finish to the season.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, Leith Athletic will travel to Fife to take on Burntisland Shipyard, with Derek Riddel’s side looking to extend a seven-game unbeaten run.
“We’re on a good run of form and we look to continue that tomorrow,” said Riddel. “But we know that Burntisland will be looking to cause an upset. They pushed Preston Athletic close last weekend and the small pitch will be a huge leveller. We’ll rotate things again ever so slightly to keep guys fresh and match sharp, but we’ll have to work hard for our win.”
Leith will contest the game without the trio of Lachlan Thom (injured), Chris Wright (suspended), and Gary Black (on holiday).
Meanwhile, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Kevin Twaddle says a tie at home to Coldstream will represent a stiff test for his players. “Coldstream will present another tough challenge, but this is a cup we would like to do well in,” said Twaddle, whose side could be without Chris Dignan.