Vale of Leithen appoint new boss after Grant Sandison resigns

Vale of Leithen are moving quickly to replace Grant Sandison – who resigned as manager after Saturday’s 2-1 Scottish Lowland Football League derby defeat at Gala Fairydean Rovers – by luring the Peebles Rovers management duo of Michael Wilson and Ross McLaren to Victoria Park.

By Craig Goldthorp
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 4:26 pm
Grant Sandison resigned as Vale of Leithen gaffer after 2-1 defeat at Gala Fairydean. Picture: Bill McBurnie
Grant Sandison resigned as Vale of Leithen gaffer after 2-1 defeat at Gala Fairydean. Picture: Bill McBurnie

Vale vice chairman Michael Hogarth told the Southern Reporter: “We have played Peebles a couple of times in previous years and Michael and Ross seem to get the best out the players they have with limited resources.

"The motivation and enthusiasm that both guys have on the touchline is obviously what we’re looking for.

"We’re hopeful they’ll be here for next season as well.

Aaron Darge in control for Gala Fairydean in their clash against Vale of Leithen

"We’ve got a budget but not a large budget so we need some great characters like these two guys to get the best out of what we’ve got.”

Saturday’s defeat – which saw Vale go two down to Ciaren Chalmers’ first half double before pulling one back through Ben Viola after 76 minutes – leaves the Innerleithen side six points adrift of Gretna 2008 at the bottom with five games remaining.

Hogarth added: “On Saturday we weren’t too far away. We gave Gala a cracking run for their money.

"We’ve got five league games left against teams in the bottom half, four home games, one away. So we absolutely still believe that we can get the points needed.”

Sandison – whose Vale assistant Ryan Brady has also left to join Stirling Albion 18s – only took the job in September. Until then he was Penicuik Athletic Under-20 manager.

He explained: “It’s obviously the time of the season when you start planning for next year.

"I’d been talking to the club about it. We just felt that under the circumstances we’d probably taken the group of players as far as we can. And it was probably better suited for somebody else to take it over, take them forward.

"It’s been a good experience for us and we’ve learned a lot. It’s definitely been a humbling experience that’s for sure but I’ve enjoyed it.

"We just felt that we'd done what we needed to do to sort of stabilise the place again and steady the ship.

"Obviously when we came in (last September) it was a bit of a mess. All the stuff behind the scenes has been sorted and there’s a good group of players on the park.

"Hopefully somebody else can bring in a bit of experience and a bit of help but the core of the squad is there so it’s a good opportunity for somebody.”

Vale only had six signed players when Sandison took over last autumn. Since then, he has brought in 15 new players – with an average age of 19 bar Newtongrange loanee Ryan Ferguson – with seven departures.

"When you put things into perspective the lads have done great,” Sandison said. “They are punching well above their weight in a very good division with basically an under-20s team.

"It is effectively a lightweight boxer fighting in a heavyweight division so they have done well to stay in the fight, picking up a win against Bo’ness and a point each against East Kilbride and Gretna. They deserve a lot of credit for that.”

Sandison also outlined what he wants to do now he has left the Vale post.

"Nothing’s planned or lined up in football so I’ll take a wee break and see what opportunities arise and see what comes up,” he said.

"I definitely want to stay in the game so I just have to be patient and see if anyone wants to take a chance on me.

"Obviously I would like to stay at Lowland League or East of Scotland level.

"I’m still a young manager. I’m only 29 years old so I’m just getting started.

"It’s been a great experience in the last year between Penicuik and Vale of Leithen. Hopefully I will get back into football sooner rather than later.”