Mickey Lawson predicts better time for former clubs Spartans and Whitehill
FORMER Whitehill Welfare and Spartans manager Mickey Lawson admits he has a great deal of sympathy for his former clubs after watching them both endure campaigns to forget.
The Midlothian club propped up the table with just 12 points to their name and will now start preparing for life in the East of Scotland Premier League next term.
Defending champions Spartans conceded their title rather tamely at the turn of the year and just managed to secure a top-four finish at the expense of Civil Service Strollers on the final day last Saturday.
Lawson, who turns 70 next month, expects both clubs to raise their game significantly and bounce back next season.
“I’ve been keeping up to date with the Lowland League and quite enjoy going to games now an again, while taking my laddie along to the Hearts games at Tynecastle,” revealed Lawson, who brought his managerial career to an end three years ago.
“I’m good friends with the coaching staff at Civil and Spartans, so it’s been very interesting to see those two clubs battle it out to finish above each other and it was great it went right down to the wire.
“I feel a bit sorry for Dougie (Samuel) and Spartans this season. They probably missed a big opportunity to earn promotion to League Two when Edinburgh City went up and this league seems to be getting harder and harder each season.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Spartans to reach the holy grail that Craig (Graham) has been dreaming of for a while, but I’m sure they’ll add to the squad and be up there challenging again.
“I spent most of my time managing in the old East of Scotland set-up, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the Premier League shapes up.
“Back in the early 1990s, the big teams were Gala, Whitehill, Vale of Leithen and Selkirk but nowadays these clubs are beginning to find it difficult to compete financially against your big-spending Junior giants that have joined the pyramid structure.
“I’m sad in some respects, but it’s where Whitehill probably should be. That is the level they are at just now. I’d imagine clubs like the two university teams and Vale will also end up back in the East of Scotland.
“Whitehill have struggled massively this season, which is a real shame. It’s a great wee ground and I’m confident they will be in a better position after a summer rebuild.
“The committee has changed considerably since my time there but I’m sure they’ll know already how difficult a league they’ll be going into.
“I would say the Whitehill team I managed was one of the most successful in East of Scotland history, so there is a tinge of sadness at their relegation but also a bit of excitement.
“It will be interesting to seeing how they compete against teams like Linlithgow. I’m just hoping they stay in the league!
“I’ll be splitting my time between watching the Edinburgh clubs in the Lowland and going to places like Whitehill and Newtongrange to watch East of Scotland games that are local to me.”
The Lowland League Cup takes centre stage this weekend with the Edinburgh and Lothian clubs looking to take advantage of title winners East Kilbride’s decision to withdraw from the competition to focus on their SPFL Pyramid play-off semi-final.
Spartans entertain Kelty Hearts at Ainslie Park on Friday night, while Whitehill travel to the Indodrill Stadium in Alloa for their third meeting with BSC Glasgow this term.
On Saturday, Civil Service Strollers welcome East Stirlingshire to Christie Gillies Park and Edinburgh University face Vale of Leithen in the Scottish Borders for a second time in the space of a fortnight.