Lawrie, you’re Scottish-born but an Australian citizen. Who do you support when the two countries play?
If it was in any other code, I would support Scotland. In the Rugby League World Cup (in October, in Australia) Scotland will be playing Fiji on the coast here, so I’ll be following Scotland then. But in football I follow the Socceroos – Scotland are rubbish anyway.
You’ve been in Australia for more than 20 years. Do you use words like “bottle-o” and “pash”?
Not at all. Don’t use “fair dinkum” and don’t use any slang words. I never have. And I don’t call people “mate”, I call them “pal”. I’ve never actually picked up any Aussie sayings. I will do it to take the piss though.
Looking back on your playing career, what do you remember of your time at Kilmarnock, in Scotland?
I signed for them when I was 20 or 21. I was married with a son and another on the way. It was like a dream come true to sign a semi-professional contract… I have nothing but fond memories. When I go back, I get a really good reception. I wasn’t a great player, but I playedwith a lot of heart and people appreciated it. The A-League gets exposure there and people follow what happens here.
Are you more famous now than when you played there?
Definitely. I get more write-ups in the Scottish papers now than I ever got as a player.
You’ve got Rangers legend Ian Ferguson working with you at Mariners. How does that partnership work so well?
He was a very aggressive player and we’re probably a good guy-bad guy combination. He’s the ultimate winner and I’m the calm, collected one. So it works very well together.
You’ve been Coach of the Year twice and reached the Grand Final twice. Are those your highest achievements?
We’ve won a Minor Premiership too. Being Scottish, winning the league is what counts. It sounds funny, but the second year coaching Northern Spirit… the players weren’t getting paid, people were getting kicked out of their houses, cars were being repossessed… To keep that team together and just miss out on the finals, by a point, was probably the most satisfying achievement.
Our readers will be used to the Scottish and English Premier Leagues. How does the A-League compare?
I think the top few A-League clubs could hold their own in the Scottish Premier and we reckon we could hold our own in the Championship. But what British people have to realise is, it’s totally different playing here. Players such as Brian Deane have really struggled with the heat and the travelling. It takes 10 hours to go to Perth, from the time we leave Gosford. Some games, it’s 32, 33 degrees.
How well will the Mariners do this year?
We think the depth of the squad is better. We think we can get to the Grand Final again. We’re a workman-like team. We work hard for each other and don’t have the big superstars. We’re very confident that we will be very competitive.
Your rivalry with Newcastle is only three years old. How does it compare to other derbies?
We take a great support up there, but the Newcastle fans never came down. Last season I baited them: “We’ve got a derby on the field, but not off it,” I said, “the Newcastle fans come down in a minibus.” The next game there were thousands of them. Since then, the atmosphere’s great. It’s definitely a derby now.
Would you ever go back to the UK?
I’m settled in Australia for good, as an Aussie. But I would look into an opportunity to go back and coach. You always wonder about the next stage; how would you do?
Thanks for your time Lawrie – and good luck for the season.