Sleepless nights for Mike Bruce over switch to Spartans

Mike Bruce, right, challenges Spartans' Keith McLeod. They are now team-mates at Ainslie Park
Mike Bruce, right, challenges Spartans' Keith McLeod. They are now team-mates at Ainslie Park
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It was an offer he tossed and turned over but, ultimately, one that new Spartans defender Mike Bruce felt he had to make.

The Lowland League champions unveiled the 25-year-old defender as their latest signing having persuaded the former Whitehill Welfare captain to make the move from Rosewell to Ainslie Park.

It was, however, a divide he was not expected to cross and one that Whitehill manager Mickey Lawson would not take kindly to.

“It gave me sleepless nights, for sure,” explained Bruce who spent four seasons at Ferguson Park and made his Spartans debut against Berwick Rangers on Tuesday. “Having to go and tell the guys I have been playing with all season and the committee that I was signing for their biggest rivals was one of the hardest things I have had to do in football.

“But you’ve got to look after yourself and if you think a move is going to benefit you on the park then you’ve got to take it.”

Bruce would not disclose the intricate details of how the move transpired but admitted he had heard whispers of Spartans’ Dougie Samuel’s interest over the course of last season.

“My dad has watched me for years and knows the game well,” he said. “He felt it would benefit my football if I made the move. He knows all the guys at Whitehill and has a pint with them every week, so I think he found it hard too.

“But anyone who knows football will know it is a good move for me. I don’t regret it at all.”

Bruce’s final league match for Whitehill in a 2-2 draw with Gretna 2008 at the beginning of May ended prematurely after being shown two yellow cards in the first 40 minutes.

“It was really difficult telling Mickey after that game,” he said. “I was not only sent off but I knew I was going to tell him after the game. That was in the back of my mind the whole match and I didn’t play well.

“I think there were some mixed emotions. He probably was a bit shocked and angry at the same time and felt I was letting him down. But these are the choices you have to make.

“I had a great time at Whitehill, winning all those trophies and captaining the club was a real privilege. Mickey did shake my hand and wish me all the best which was nice and I did leave on good terms.”

Spartans want to be the first club to benefit from the pyramid system by being promoted to SPFL League Two. Asked if this had a bearing on his decision, Bruce replied: “Without a doubt. The professionalism and the set-up at Spartans is unbelievable an

d you don’t know how good it is until you’re involved in it. They really think they can go places and that’s why I made the move.”

Bruce will face stiff competition to cement his place in the Spartans rearguard, club captain Kevin Sivewright and Daniel O’Donnell having formed a formidable central defensive partnership in last season’s inaugural campaign in which just 16 goals were conceded in 22 league fixtures. But Bruce has no qualms about going in to stir things up.

He said: “Dougie said if I want a place then I’ve got to prove I’m worth it. I know from last season their defensive record was unbelievable. I just need to keep my head down and work away and I’m sure I can prove to them I’m worth a shot. “Looking at the squad we’ve got, I’m quietly confident we can push on. But I think everyone in the league will fancy their chances.”