Following the recent Development League Cup Semi Final, in which our U20s side secured an impressive 4-2 win over Dundonald Bluebell at Millfield, we caught up with coach Graham Marron. They will play St Andrews United in the Final on 31 May.

You must have been delighted by the win?

“Yes, I was really delighted with the performance and result. There have been some ups and downs this season but we set a target of reaching the final as a ‘showcase’ for the end of the season. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The effort they put in was second to none. Dundonald were bringing on quality with every substitution. For us to compete and win was amazing. I’m delighted for the club and pleased for everyone involved, including the committee. Allowing us to use Millfield for the match made it an occasion. It ended up being a great 24 hours for the club with the first team winning at Sauchie on the Saturday.”

How excited are you by some of the prospects in the U20 side?

“Scott (Bonar, manager) and myself have had many of the players for years at Portobello and then brought them down to Haddington. They are so close to the first team. The philosophy in the U20s is exactly how Scott would want to play in the first team. Age is not a barrier to the first team. They are all more than capable and can fit right in. They are training with the first team which means they know the expectations. The pipeline of players for the club means we are in a good place. We might not be able to compete financially with some clubs, but we have this pipeline of players coming through. And the vast majority can still play U20 for another two seasons.”

Robbie Peffers is an obvious example of an U20s player making his mark in the first team?

“Yes, I expect he will become an established first team player next season. He has developed at a high level, playing against first team players. He has more than earned his place. He’s a phenomenal player for someone so small. The desire and energy is incredible. I have watched him from the age of 11 or 12. He has not reached his peak yet and is an outstanding player with great prospects.”

Making the step up and adapting to the Premier Division must be a learning curve?

“It is. I saw a video online of the players celebrating when the winning goal for the first team went in against Dunbar United in the League Cup and what you notice is the youthfulness of the first team. It’s a big step up to that level and a learning curve, but the players we have can do well.”

You’ve been focusing on the U20s of late but have spent a lot of time with the first team in the last two years. How do you feel things are progressing?

“We have been slowly adding bits and pieces each season. I speak with Scott regularly and he is delighted. There have been games, such as the home match against Broxburn, when we have been very unlucky. We have often played well against the top teams and are not far away. When we’ve lost it’s usually just been by the odd goal. Scott has plans for players to come in whilst continuing to develop the players we have and so we should see further improvement. I have 100% faith in that. Against Dunbar I think the average age was 22. If we keep the same desire, Haddington can one day win the Premier Division. It’s just a case of biding our time. Three or four signings could make all the difference. Lucas McGarry gets better and better. Nick Aitchison is a stalwart in defence. The building blocks are there.”

You have known and worked with Scott for a number of years. How key is that relationship?

“We were at Edina Hibs together and then Portobello. We have been working together for 15 years. We both have the same philosophy. I do not try to change anything he doesn’t want to change. He can allow me to get on with the 20s knowing I am putting in what he wants. We are a good team together. It always works. We bounce off each other. It’s a great relationship. We can both talk the same and think the same. Scott lives and breathes the club. He has been successful in every job he has had.”

How much do you enjoy being a part of Haddington Athletic?

“I love the club. I have never known such a close-knit community in terms of the connection with the club. The committee really care for the club. The way the ground is looked after is impressive and they look to add things. You are made to feel welcome. I am always getting good luck messages before the U20 matches. It’s a great club to be at. I really enjoy being part of Haddington. It’s not just another job in football. You really want to do well here.”