Musselburgh Athletic captain Matti King confident they can secure first silverware in ten years
While there’s been a wind of change off the park at Musselburgh Athletic this season, the Olivebank men have done remarkably well to maintain their focus on the pitch and are aiming to secure their first piece of cup silverware in ten years on Sunday.
With a new chairman and a new manager in place since last year, many would have expected this campaign to be something of a bedding in period for the fresh incumbents at the East Lothian club – but it’s been quite the opposite, with Burgh having comfortably finished third in East of Scotland Conference B and a trophy is now within their grasp.
The one player who remains from the Burgh squad when they last won some silver, doing a double as they lifted both the St Michael Cup and Brown Cup in season 2008-09, is striker Matti King, who will lead Kevin McDonald’s team out at Penicuik Park against Bo’ness United in the East of Scotland League Cup final.
Captain King, who has netted 34 goals so far this season and signed a one-year extension last week with a testimonial planned, admits getting to a final is something of a surprise.
“It’s not what we expected at the start of the season with having the reshuffle with a new chairman coming in [Karl Cleghorn, who replaced Charlie McGlynn following an EGM last June],” said King.
“There wasn’t any expectation at the start of the season for us to get to a final, it was more about consolidating our position in the league and making sure we were in the top one for next season.
“We had our own aims at the start of the season, just in the league mainly. We thought we had a great chance of winning the league at the beginning but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with some silly results.
“We never really had any intentions in the cup – but you always want to go as far as you can. To begin with it was [a surprise to get to a cup final] but in the last three games we’ve played in it [Hill of Beath, Camelon and Jeanfield], we’ve done well. We were the better side in the first two games, we were possibly lucky on Saturday – they [Jeanfield] are probably the best side in the league we have faced this season, but we managed to grind it out in the end.”
Musselburgh won the Premier League in their last season as a Junior club under previous boss Calvin Shand, who quit Burgh in May last year before performing a U-turn and returning in July. He then left the Olivebank men once again in February, moving to East Lothian neighbours Tranent.
Assistant McDonald took over after Shand’s departure and King says the transition has been seamless. The veteran striker is confident Burgh’s young squad won’t be startled by the occasion of a cup final.
“There’s not a great deal that has changed, he’s obviously put in his own wee ideas in here and there. I think he maybe just wanted to keep it consistent until the end of this season since Judas [Shand] left. I still speak to him, but he doesn’t like the Judas jibe – that’s all he gets when he sees any of us!
“Two young boys have come in from the 20s this season and done really well. Bradley Whyte came in last season and he’s played the majority of the games, and we’ve had wee Jack Gillan who has only just turned 20, and he’s been filling in and getting more consistent, so they are coming along well. We’ll just need to be up for it and get in about them.”
Bo’ness boss Max Christie, who replaced former manager Steve Kerrigan in January after leaving Tranent, is delighted by the progress his players have made since he took over, with the BUs having won 16 out of 16 since he assumed control, including Tuesday night’s 5-4 penalty shootout semi-final win over league champions Bonnyrigg Rose.
“We’ve done well, we’ve been on a good run. We’ve beaten a lot of teams that we would be expected to beat but we’ve had some big results as well,” said Christie “I am absolutely delighted with the spirit and the bunch of boys we’ve got at the club. They’ve been a real credit and I’ve loved working with them.
“We know Musselburgh are a good side, they had a great result against Jeanfield last week and we’ll need to be at our very best. It’s on the day, but we have a lot of guys in the changing room that have won just about everything there is to win in Junior football. They are used to it and won’t be fazed by it.”