Stewart Maxwell had a prestigious playing career at junior level, turning out for a host of top clubs over 18 years. Now taking his first steps in management at Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, he chats to Eveningtimes.co.uk about his life in the junior game, and how he is coping with the transition from the field to the dugout.
Name: Stewart Maxwell
Club: Kirkintilloch Rob Roy
Playing Career: Cambuslang Rangers, Linlithgow Rose, Bathgate Thistle, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, Kilwinning Rangers and Petershill.
After starting your career at Cambuslang Rangers, you took the unusual step at the time of trying your luck in the East region didn't you?
'I joined Cambuslang Rangers from East Stirling and enjoyed a great spell there in my early twenties.
'Then I spent four years through east at Linlithgow Rose and Bathgate. I had a good spell through there personally as a lot of players from the west weren't really going through there at the time.
'It was maybe only me and Paddy Flannery that were the only two west-based players in the Linlithgow squad, but we did well there and finished runners-up in the league.'
You then carried on that success at Bathgate, and came so close to a treble didn't you?
'I had a great time there. I only spent a year and a half there before having to move for personal reasons, but we had a great run.
'I think we were undefeated in 27 games, but then we lost the Scottish Cup Final. We also only needed one point in our last three games to win the league - we never got the point, we lost all three games - then we lost the East of Scotland Cup Final. This was all in the space of ten days!
'So that was disappointing. I've won a few trophies and a few league titles, but probably the highlight of my career was getting to that Scottish Cup Final. I've lost three semi-finals and been beaten in the Final, so that's tough to take.'
You then enjoyed a great spell at Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, what has it been like returning to the club as manager?
'It's gone well. I'd been playing at this level for 18 years, and I was at Rob Roy previously for 5 years, so it was a massive opportunity at that stage of my career.
'I was at Petershill last year and I probably would have played another year if this opportunity hadn't come up, but it was too good a move not to take towards the end of my career. I was quite flattered that they took a gamble on me as I obviously didn't have a lot of managerial experience, so I was pleased to get it.'
You came into a club with no signed players for the new season, was that daunting for a new manager?
'It was tough because it's well documented that there were no players there in the summer. It's almost been like a full time job for six months for me and my two assistant managers Paul Ronald and Billy Thompson.
'From where we were to where we are now, I think we've progressed really well.'
It can often take a new squad time to gel, how have they coped so far?
'We've been quite lucky in that we've brought a lot of boys in from the under-21s, where we got the cream of the crop and a lot of them have taken to it like a duck to water.
'A lot of young boys coming into junior football usually start in the league below or the second division, so it's a tough baptism of fire for them being in the top league - never mind me being a fledgling manager.
'I think they've done really well.'
Given the turnaround in players, what would represent success for Rob Roy this season?
'It's survival for me. Surviving would be like winning the league when you take into account everything we've had to deal with. I don't think many managers have had the situation I've had, where we went in and had not one player!
'A couple have went into messy situations but I think I've had the worst scenario, so for me, 100%, if I can keep Rob Roy in the league in my first season as manager I'd be over the moon.
'We're still only 5 months into having a brand new squad and we've got 16 points, so overall I'm quite happy with that. I reckon 26 or 27 points will keep you in the league, so we're only 10 or 11 points away from safety.'