Despite having severed ties with Spartans last summer, Civil Service Strollers wing-back Andy Mair insists he would love nothing more than to see his old team crowned Lowland League champions.
Mair elected to join city rivals Strollers following a heart-to-heart with Spartans boss Dougie Samuel, who informed the 22-year-old that first-team opportunities would be hard to come by this term.
Admitting it was a bitter blow, the youngster quickly set about finding himself a new challenge. And, having become a regular starter at Christie Gilles Park – a mile and a half from his old stomping ground – Mair is relishing his new lease of life.
Strollers could do their city rivals a huge favour tomorrow when reigning league champions and current table toppers East Kilbride are the visitors. Kilby are six points ahead of Strollers’ near neighbours, however, they do have three games in hand.
“It would be great to see Spartans win the league as they’re another team from Edinburgh,” Mair said. “Both clubs have been really consistent this season so it’s difficult to say who will go on and win the league. You can’t rule out BSC or East Stirlingshire too. But we could certainly do Spartans a big favour tomorrow so I will be giving it my all.
“It’s going to be a tough game but I think we have the advantage of playing on grass. I think they’re a lot quicker and sharper on the astro so I reckon we’ve got a real chance.”
Recalling his decision to leave Spartans nine months ago, Mair said: “I had come through the Spartans Development squad and had played a couple of games for the first team last season. But I had a chat with Dougie and he told me he couldn’t guarantee me first-team football this year so I knew then it was time to go elsewhere. I wanted more game time so I needed to make a move. But I’ve really settled in here, it’s been going well so I’m happy. I’m getting the game time I wanted so I couldn’t ask for much more.
“With the formation we’ve been playing I’ve been in my favoured position of left wing-back which means I can get forward and it’s been paying off as I’ve scored a few goals recently.”
Mair has enjoyed working under former Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine who has been taking team affairs alongside manager Alex Cunningham since December. Cunningham has previously revealed he is hopeful Jardine will take over the reins full time next season.
“It’s a good partnership between Alex and Gary we’ve got at the moment,” the youngster said. “Gary has got a lot experience having won the league with Edinburgh City so it’s good to learn of him. We don’t know what is going to happen next year but it would be good to see Alex stay on in some capacity. He’s done a huge amount for the club in his time here.”
Eighth-placed Strollers could finish the weekend in fifth place with a win tomorrow and results elsewhere go their way.
“We just want to finish as high as possible,” Mair continued. “We’re eighth just now which is the highest we’ve been since the club has been in the Lowland League. I think a reasonable target would be to finish in the top six so that’s something we should be aiming for. It’s been frustrating recently with the games being postponed but we’ve been training Saturdays as well to keep us ticking over.”
Meanwhile, Spartans host Cumbernauld Colts at Ainslie Park tonight where a win for the hosts would cut Kilby’s lead to three points – at least for 24 hours.
Edinburgh University host Gala Fairydean Rovers at East Peffermill and Whitehill Welfare, who lost 1-0 to Dalbeattie Star at Islecroft on Wednesday night, welcome Selkirk to Ferguson Park.