David can’t resist the lure of home town team

David Lilley gets his squad together for the start of pre-season training.
David Lilley gets his squad together for the start of pre-season training.

Bellshill Athletic boss David Lilley says the lure of taking over his home town team as his first job in management was too much to resist.

The former Kilmarnock and Aberdeen defender welcomed his squad back for pre-season training at Strathclyde Park on Saturday.

Lilley said: “I retired a few years ago and didn’t have much to do with football, but I worked with Rab Sneddon at Pollok and that gave me a real taste for it so when my shifts at work changed I couldn’t wait to get back involved with the game.

“Being local it means a lot to me to be given this opportunity by Athletic, especially with the team returning to play its games in the town next season.”

After a near 20-year career in the senior ranks Lilley admits he doesn’t know an awful lot about the junior game, but has a wealth of knowledge to draw on with Athletic legend Brian Dingwall, Lilley’s brother-in-law, and former manager, the aforementioned Sneddon, coming in to assist him.

He said: “It will take me a bit of time to learn the ins and outs of the game at this level, I know a bit, but certainly nothing like Rab who has done it all over the years.

“Brian was such a prolific goalscorer in junior football that he can pass on so much knowledge to our strikers, and even though he says he is retired I am hoping I can tempt him to play should the need arise.”

Athletic seem to be entering a new era of stability with Rockburn Park being prepared for the start of the season and Lilley, Athletic’s third manager in 12 months, determined he is here for the long haul.

He said: “I know the club has had some problems in the past, but I’m not interested in that, all I’m interested in is the future.

“Robert Downs and Brian McGinty did a great job, but left for their own reasons and that’s fine, at the moment I’ve got the job and I’ve no plans to go anywhere any time soon and just want to get the side ready to compete in the Super League.

“It’s an exciting time with the club returning to play its games in Bellshill after so many years away and doing to well to gain promotion last season from the Central League.”

Lilley would love to return Athletic to the heights of the mid-2000s when they were a fixture of the Super league Premier Division, but he isn’t getting carried away.

He said: “We lost some players before I came in which is unfortunate, although I don’t know whether we could have held onto them whether I had been here or not.

“The first season in a higher league you are of course looking to consolidate and if you achieve that then who know where it will take you.

“I’d love to take Athletic as high as possible, but for now I take it one season at a time.”