Class career for student defender after Falkirk trial

Ally MacKinnon has ended his trial at Falkirk. Pic Gary Hutchison
Ally MacKinnon has ended his trial at Falkirk. Pic Gary Hutchison
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Defender Alasdair McKinnon is the latest player lost to Falkirk’s new campaign - in unusual circumstances for a footballer.

The bell has tolled for 21-year-old Edinurgh Uni graduate’s Bairns trial as he has to pursue his teaching career.

He says uncertainty over the graduate placement scheme that guarantees newly qualified teachers a year’s experience in the job has forced the Scotland Uni cap to err on the side of caution and take up a place in a school in East Lothian.

He’ll join up with his school in Haddington next month, but with a heavy heart after seeing his professional football dream end.

“Basically I got my school all organised and hadn’t told them about my time at Falkirk,” he told Heraldsport.

“The plan was to find out if I was offered a contract then if I was, defer my placement for a year and have a back-up in teaching.

“But now there is a bit of uncertainty. No-one appears to have confirmed they are going to do the scheme next year so this was the only year mentioned. I have to go on the safe side and do it.

“I’ve graduated, but to complete it all, I have to take part in the teachers’ induction scheme. Once that’s done it means you’re officially a teacher.

“Teaching jobs are few and far between anyway and I just have to get it done. It is disappointing but it would be incredibly difficult to get a job without this scheme.”

And that means a fortnight of pre-season toil with the Bairns has come to a premature end.

But boss Steven Pressley believes the defender from Dalkeith has a future in the game, even if it is part-time in the Scottish Football league.

“Ally was offered pre-season facilities because we’d heard a bit about him, and he coped really well.

“But we don’t really have the money to bring in development players at the moment.

“However he impressed us, enjoyed himself and we’re happy to have had him.”

It has been an enjoyable time for the student, who played under Michael Renwick - a contact of Elvis’ - for Scotland’s Universities team, but each time he thinks of the enjoyment he has had, it is tinged with regret.

“I can’t thank the manager enough and he’s left the door open for me to come back if I want, which is great.

“I will keep in touch and keep an eye on Falkirk’s progress, I can see them doing quite well, they’re good guys.

“It has been great, the guys have all been great and it is actually a really, really nice group of boys.

“I can sing their praises but it is a hard one to take. But I think I’m doing the right thing. That means the trial is coming to an end now. For the last two weeks I’ve done a lot of sweating and it’s very, very enjoyable.

“The match with Alloa was my last, it ends here.”

McKinnon did his reputation no harm in an assured second half performance at Recreation Park. The defender looked one of the most comfortable on the park and hinted at a future in the game.

“I’ll be looking for a part-time team, but one quite near my school because I don’t want to take on too much.

“I’m delighted to have been here but disappointed I can’t keep going. Now the hunt starts for another team.”