Martin Lauchlan Happy With Decision To Join EK

EK Coaches 1

Martin Lauchlan, with Carlo Girasoli & Paul Roberts after cup win against Berwick Rangers

Ex Rossvale boss Martin Lauchlan recently took over at the helm of ambitious Lowland League side East Kilbride, after the departure of Billy Ogilvie due to work commitments. Since taking charge of East Kilbride, Lauchlan has steered the K Park side to a 9 match unbeaten run and 2 cup final wins. Martin shared his ambitions and reasons behind leaving the juniors for the Lowland League outfit with thejuniors.info.

What were the reasons behind you leaving Rossvale?

“Basically down to interference from the committee, I think we felt that we had done that well there and at least deserved the chance to go and run the team as we pleased. “When we started there, we were probably the worst team in junior football.  “We never had anyone at preseason and at the end of it we had a squad of 25. “We won the league by 26 points and in record time and when we left, we were second top, 3 points behind with 4 games in hand. “When people are asking who’s playing, why is he leaving and about substitutions, you just realise that its maybe better to go elsewhere. “It was unbelievable, I think we deserved at least that after the job that we had done there. “To be allowed a free rein and be able to pick and choose the players that we liked. “I think it maybe down to the committee being inexperienced and to be honest, they didn’t want to go in the same direction as us. “I didn’t feel that they wanted to take the next step, I would have guaranteed at each stage that we would have won the league but minimum we would have got promotion. “It wasn’t forthcoming that they wanted the same thing as us. “But it was just the right time to go and I think now, with where we have ended up and with what we have achieved, we’ve been proven right.”

Why East Kilbride and the Lowland League?

“I had a few offers from some Super League Premier sides in the juniors, but what East Kilbride had to offer was something that excited me. “When East Kilbride came to talk with me, I kind of knew their story, their set up and infrastructure. “I also knew of their ambition as a club and that was the most important thing for me. “Obvisouly everyone knew of the Celtic match and that was at the front of everybody’s mind after that. “But I knew quite a bit about East Kilbride from before all that and had taken in several games, so I think that I have stepped up quite a few levels in standard and quality and to be honest I’m really enjoying it.”

What have been your impressions of the Lowland League since taking over?

“The Lowland League is a very competitive league, I would say that the top half of the league has got some very good sides and the bottom half has teams that are probably a wee bit easier to play against. “Without being disrespectful to them as you’ve still got to go out there and beat them. “I’ve been impressed with the very professional set up’s at the clubs. “Compared to junior football I would say that the level and the set up’s are completely different. “We’ll be playing Cumbernauld at Broadwood, we’ll be playing at Alloa and at Ainslie Park, it’s all geared up with the aim of getting into SPFL League Two. “I would say that the facilities are much better than junior level and everyone is geared to head in the right direction. “I mean everyone has to have their UEFA B license or be heading toward it as well, and at junior level that just isn’t the case. “No doubt that some of the junior teams could come and give you a good game, but certainly the Lowland League is geared to stepping up to League Two.”

What’s the feeling amongst the sides now that 4 teams have been entered into the Irn Bru Cup?

“Well what happened is that we finished fifth, even though we won 9 from 10 matches toward the end and it’s the top 4 that go into the competition, so that’s disappointing. “With the League Cup it’s East Stirlingshire and one other that goes into that. “It certainly brought about some added interest, but I think with the facilities that we’ve got, maybe we should have got into it. “When you look at the fact that there are now Irish, Welsh and Development teams in it, so it’s a bit disappointing from that side of things. “That the sides with the facilities haven’t all went into it from the Lowland League, if it had been up to me the whole league would have been in it. “What should have happened in my opinion is that the teams from the Championship, League One and League Two should have all been seeded and the Lowland side remained unseeded. “We could have played them at their home park and they could have used it as a preseason game with no travelling. “It would have gotten them involved and using their own facilities, but to miss out is a bit disappointing.”

“Where do you see the future of the Scottish junior game?

“It is something that I will always keep my eye on, but from my own point of view I think that I have stepped up a level. “But I’ll always look back as there is certainly some great players in the junior ranks, but I’m looking at a new market now. “Junior football will always be good and as I say I’ll keep an eye on, but I think that the Lowland League is the next step for everyone wanting to enter professional football.”

Do you think that the authorities should insist that junior clubs join the pyramid?

“That’s a hard one, I think that junior teams could do well but I don’t think they’d want to step up. “So from that point of view I don’t think that if you’d ask them, all lot of junior sides wouldn’t want to enter the Lowland League and would say no as there is an extra expense there. “The buses alone can cost four or £500 every time you play away, so a lot of sides couldn’t afford it for one. “Some simply won’t have the facilities and infrastructure to do it, so it’s a hard one.”

What about the bigger clubs that may have more ambition?

“I think there maybe an overhaul next year in the Lowland League or so I hear, there’s going to be Celtic and Rangers Colts all going into a new regionalised league that’s being worked on just now. “I think the junior teams should look at it, but as I say it maybe a finance thing and you need a backer if you want to go and go the whole way.”

What are your plans at East Kilbride and what type of side are you building for the coming season?

“My plan would be for us to get promotion to League Two, I’ve spoken to the owners and we’ve got 2 years to do it. “They are an ambitious club and they’ll back me all the way, and everyone from the club including the chairman, the owners, the stadium manager, they’re all ambitious and all pulling in the same direction. “It’s a community club and everyone in that community wants the club to be successful, and get up. “And I’ve no doubt that if we can get up, we can go onto being one of the top sides in Scotland just with the catchment area of 80,000 people. “Now that I’m up there I can see in and around the town, if you don’t know East Kilbride you might not appreciate the size of the catchment area around the place. “The club is now going in the right direction.”

How are the plans for the new stadium proceeding?

“The stadium has been granted and we should have final plans on the 31st of July, then the 4000 seater stadium should be up in around 18 months. “When they receive the final word, the work should start right away and they should have one stand up in about 12 months, and the rest within the 18 months. “The owners are builders and will be on it from the first minute, almost the next day.”

What are your own personal ambitions as a manager?

“I want to get to the highest level that I possibly can. “I’ve played at every level in Scotland, but when I look back I don’t feel that I achieved as much as I’d liked to have done with my career. “And I certainly want to do that as a manger, I’ve got some unfinished business at senior level. “But in saying that if I can do a job at East Kilbride, which could be long term as everything is there to get up and be a top club.”

If you were trying to sell the Lowland League to Junior sides what would you say?

“In junior level, the problem that you have with players is the amount of money that they earn. “So they’re happy, a lot of them work and they’re happy playing in and around there own local area and they’ll only go as far as Ayrshire. “Whereas if they were playing in the Lowland League they’d need to be a bit more professional and the sides might be a bit more intense. “Certainly there’s not a lot between the standard and there’s a wee bit more travelling, but it’s a bit more professional and there’s a bit more expected of them. “Then I think it’s hard to get junior player’s and entice them away, so I’m looking at a different market. “I’m now going and looking at the SPFL and players that have been released rather than the junior market. “I’ll certainly always keep an eye on the juniors but I don’t think you’ll get too many wanting to come to teams like East Kilbride. “They’d have to buy into the whole thing that we’re trying to achieve here.”

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