Robert Irving: Why I quit as Lesmahagow Juniors manager

Outgoing Lesmahagow Juniors manager Robert Irving has explained the reasons behind his shock decision to stand down from the Craighead Park post.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 2:20 pm
Robert Irving led Lesmahagow Juniors to the 2018 Sectional League Cup final (Pic by Roberto Cavieres)

Irving, whose second spell in charge at Craighead Park began in 2016, has been replaced by Neil Schoneville, 38 as part of a major revamp at Lesmahagow.

“This was a joint decision between myself and coaches Eric Watson and Davie Jackson,” Irving, 55, told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette.

"Some of our committee are quite aged now. The president is 80, our treasurer is not very well, the other boys on the committee are 78, 70 and 74 and Andy (Robert’s brother) does a lot of work within the cub.

"So we just felt that the time was right for me and Eric to give up our posts on the coaching side and go and help run the club now.

"Some of the boys there have been doing what they do for nearly 50 years. They should be going to the football and just enjoying it and not having to worry about who’s manning a gate or whatever.

"It’s getting too much for them so they’re just needing a help on the committee side.

"It’s not fair. There’s been many a time where we’ve been down there in the dead of winter and it’s pouring with rain and those boys are standing at gates getting soaking wet and not getting dried off until they get back up the road at night.

"And that’s the kind of thing that me and Eric will do.

"If we need to stand on a gate and take the admission money then that’s what we’ll do just to keep the club going.”

Now he has moved upstairs, Irving will help to run club fun nights, bingo night, racenights and sportsman’s dinners.

Such duties represent a new chapter of ’Gow involvement for the man who had enjoyed a distinguished playing career with Lesmahagow before his first coaching brief at the club in 2004 when he was appointed assistant manager to Sandy Robertson.

When Robertson then left in 2011, Irving got the manager’s gig before resigning five years later to take a break. After a brief spell away recharging his batteries, Irving returned to the hotseat just six months later.

Irving’s illustrious history with Lesmahagow is such that he was a 25-year-old midfielder in the ’Gow team which landed the 1994 Sectional League Cup with a 2-1 triumph over Petershill at the old Kilbowie Stadium in Clydebank.

Twenty-four years later, in 2018, he led ’Gow out in the final of the same competition when they lost 6-1 to long time junior giants Auchinleck Talbot at Newlandsfield Park, Pollok.

"Although we got beat it was still a great achievement getting to the final,” Irving said.

"The promotions along the way were also highlights.

"There’s been a lot of highs and a lot of enjoyable moments in it but we’ve had our lows as well but that comes as part and parcel of football.”

On new ’Gow boss Neil Schoneville, Irving said: “I brought Neil in three years ago and he’s never let me down.

"He’s first in and last away at training, he’s good in the dressing room, he’s good with the other boys.”