Amateur club Seaforth employ ex-Marine to up ante

Seaforth Highlanders, currently flirting with the relegation zone in the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur FA Premier Division 1 table, have drawn on their military roots to help lift the club out the doldrums.

The side that shares its name with the famed regiment has been handed a test of punishing endurance by coach Stevie Cameron, who has called upon an ex-Royal Marine to help his players' fitness and psychological outlook.

Long after Hearts and, more famously, Jock Wallace's Rangers trudged through the sand dunes and scaled 'Murder Hill' at Gullane, East Lothian, as part of a gruelling pre-season schedule, Cameron has employed former commando Andy Holdaway, of physical training company Per Terram, to help his team climb the table.

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"One of our players, Alan Bannon (son of ex-Hearts and Hibs player Eamonn], knows Andy and suggested it to us," said Cameron. "We gave it a go, and all of the guys said it was the worst thing they'd ever done in their life - in a good way!

"At the end of the day, it's good for them. A few guys have felt a noticeable difference after games. We used to get seven or eight boys here when we had two training sessions a week, but we do one every week now and the sessions with Andy once a month, and we get 14-15 most weeks."

Following promotion to the top tier in 2006/07, Seaforth secured top-five finishes in their first two seasons, but struggled last season and narrowly avoided relegation as two fellow member clubs failed to complete their fixtures.

Despite their indifferent form this term, gaining two wins from their opening nine league games, team spirit is on the rise as a "trench mentality" has developed among the players through regular sessions of hard running, competitive group exercises, and strength and conditioning work at their Goldenacre training base.

Seaforth have been beaten by the odd goal in each of their last three defeats, most recently at the weekend in their loss at championship contenders Newcraighall Leith Vics, but progressed in the East of Scotland Cup thanks to a 2-1 win over Silverknowes Vale.

Now, says central defender Neil Ferguson, they are only a "cheap goal" away from turning their form around.

"I'd say that everybody's fitness is much better - even from doing the sessions with Andy once a month. I think, in a sick way, everybody does enjoy it!

"It helps the stamina, and matches definitely get easier as time goes on. It's not just about the fitness, Andy does motivate us. What he tells us about team work makes a lot of sense and can apply to any situation in life. Things have been improving but we give away awfully cheap goals - we need to stop gifting teams goals and we'd start doing better."

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Twenty-eight-year-old Holdaway, left, is the team's new nemesis once a month, and has a clear vision for Seaforth. Having been deployed to Afghanistan in recent years, he stresses the value of mental development as well as an increase in raw strength.

He says: "When I first spoke to Stevie Cameron. He said: 'We want you to push us beyond our limits.' The main difference between me and a fitness coach is that I'm here as a motivating force. We do a lot of cardio, but a lot is mental. Fitness in sport is 60 per cent about the player's ability and 40 per cent mental toughness. Since we started the sessions, I have heard 'I can't do anymore' - those heinous words have been uttered by one or two lads.

"What I'm here to do is to push their limits. I'm not here to be their mate - there's nothing personal when a session is on. I'm here to train."

Andy and Per Terram are employed by other sports teams throughout the Capital, including amateur club Redpath Albion. For more information, visit