The SPFL handed out their first-ever manager of the month awards to bosses outside the top flight yesterday with Alex Neil of Hamilton, Stenhousemuir’s Martyn Corrigan and John Coughlin of East Stirling chosen as the top performers for August.
Neil had the best record of the three as his side won all six of their games. Having also ended last season as an award winner, the 32-year-old said: “I won April’s award from Irn-Bru that and have begun this season by being the first-ever SPFL Championship manager of the month. That is pretty good going.
“In between, I secured the job on a permanent basis but these awards are not about me they are really about the boys. They have been great ever since I took over from Billy Reid and they have bought into everything I have tried to do. I may be getting the award and the publicity but it is something that everyone can share.”
Neil is enjoying his first managerial post as he explained: “I have enjoyed combining playing and managing more than I thought I would. It has been a progression for me after taking the under-17s and then the under-20s.”
“I have been at Hamilton probably longer than anyone else on the playing staff and I know the players inside out. I have experience and I see it as part of my job to pass that experience on and I do that on and off of the park.”
Neil added: “Part of the reason we have done so well is that the players are good listeners who want to improve. To go through August winning all our games was terrific.”
“To do so well was not a total surprise but one thing that has surprised me is that we have a five-point lead after just six games. However, there is a lot of work still to be done.
Stenhousemuir manager Corrigan reckons that a tough pre-season programme helped his players achieve the results that led to him securing the League 1 award.
Corrigan said: “We were the first team back to pre-season in Britain and we deliberately set the players a hard programme. We are only a part-time club and what my assistant Kevin McGoldrick and I asked the players to do was demanding.
“It was, however, mostly football related and, after designing it, we were delighted with the application of the players. Getting this award is a great acknowledgement for doing that and everything else that the players did last month.”
East Stirlingshire manager John Coughlin ended a near five-year interval between awards having taken a side that has finished bottom of the table for the past two seasons to the top in August.
Coughlin, whose last award was in September 2008 when he was in charge at Stenhousemuir, said: “I am delighted to win an award again, as it has been a while. It shows you the up and down nature of being a part-time manager. There are plenty of trials and tribulations at this level so it is nice for both myself and East Stirling to be recognised.”
The Shire won their first three games of last month. Coughlin added: “It is further justification of the changes that we made to the squad during the summer. This is an award for everyone at the club to share.”