How Bonnyrigg Rose helped bring boss Robbie Horn out of ‘dark place’

Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn has revealed he considered quitting football after his time as Berwick Rangers boss left him in a “dark place”.

Tuesday, 7th May 2019, 6:30 am
The Bonnyrigg players celebrate after being crowned East of Scotland League champions. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Now, after leading Rose into the Lowland League, the 41-year-old’s perseverance has been vindicated.

Horn’s season as a manager was epitomised in a crazy 90 minutes of East of Scotland League play-off action in Broxburn on Saturday. Two goals and a man down with their title hopes in tatters, Rose hit back with three goals in a breathtaking second half – during which Horn was sent off – to wrest the crown from the grasp of play-off rivals Broxburn and Penicuik Athletic.

The topsy-turvy drama reflected his season as a manager. He began it with a difficult time at League Two side Berwick, whom he left in October due to the impact the role was having on his health. Horn returned to Bonnyrigg – where his previous success had earned him the move to Shiefield Park – and he’s thankful for the support he’s had from everyone at the Midlothian club.

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Robbie Horn is glad he came back to Bonnyrigg Rose

“I wanted an opportunity to manage in senior football but – and hindsight is a wonderful thing – I probably should have stayed where I was,” said Horn.

“I was in a dark place, to be honest, when I left Berwick. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get back into football. I was considering leaving management completely. If there was one place I was going to go it was coming back to Bonnyrigg. I obviously knew the committee and players, who I think wanted me to come back. My family wanted to make sure I was alright before I came back.

“Coming back I can’t say enough for the support I’ve had from my family and coaching staff. Davy [Burrell, assistant manager] has been unbelievable. He has been a rock to me, and the committee and also the players have been incredible with the support they have given me. They’ve made my job easy.”

Horn made a double change early in the second half on Saturday, bringing on strikers Keiran McGachie and Aaron Murrell, with the latter scoring and setting the third goal up which sparked a mini pitch invasion as emotions took over. It was a game-changing tactical move, but Horn insisted it was his players and not him who were responsible for their incredible comeback.

He continued: “We changed the shape and went two up front, and we got the result because we were brave. I can’t praise that group of boys enough for their performance and the way that they turned that game around; that’s them – it’s nothing to do with management or coaches, that’s them as a group of players with a team spirit amongst them which is unbeatable.

“Broxburn and Penicuik have had fantastic seasons winning their conferences, but we have been the best team – there is no doubt about it. We proved it on Saturday that we have been the best team and we’ve reached the latter stages of all the cup competitions as well.”

Although Rose are expected to take their place in the Lowland League next season, they will only do subject to being awarded an SFA licence, with the club still in the dark over whether their application has been successful.

Horn added: “The situation we find ourselves in is baffling. Three teams all looking to get promotion and not knowing if they are going to get promoted isn’t great. I feel sorry for the other two teams. In an ideal world, we all could have gone up, but that’s what has to happen. There needs to be openness to get into the Lowland League to allow teams to progress.

“It has been too much of a closed shop for too long, and too much self-preservation for teams, but teams find their level and it’s only going to improve Scottish football if teams like Bonnyrigg and Broxburn are allowed to progress into the Lowland League.”

• In last night’s League Cup semi-final between Bo’ness United and Bonnyrigg, the home team won 5-4 on penalties. The game finished 1-1 after extra-time and Rose were ahead 4-2 in the shootout but Andy Murphy saved twice and the BUs won it. They now face Musselburgh in the final at Penicuik Park on Sunday.

Rose went ahead through Aaron Murrell but Brian Morgan equalised after 28 minutes. United’s Devon Jacobs was sent off two minutes into extra time for a second yellow card.