Brora Rangers have gone from strength to strength under his watch but Steven Mackay knows he is far from the finished article.
Mackay led Brora to the Highland League title last season and won the North of Scotland Cup, earning him manager of the year honours.
It was only his second full season in charge, after succeeding Ross Tokely in the summer of 2018. His first year saw them lose just three times all season, which was still only good enough for second behind Cove, who went on to achieve promotion.
Mackay won the league twice with the Cattachs as a player – back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 – as the club came close to being the first side promoted via the pyramid play-offs. That was on the back of a remarkable 50-goal season, which was only matched by Cove’s Mitch Megginson in 2018.
In the most recent season they picked up arguably their biggest result in the club’s history, drawing 1-1 at full-time Morton of the Championship in the Scottish Cup.
Along with long-time friends Craig Campbell and David Hind, the Brora assistant manager and first-team coach, Mackay has learned a great deal but still has room to improve.
He said: “I think I’ve learned masses. You go into the role knowing it’s a massive role for you and it’s out of your comfort zone. I wanted to face that challenge and I feel I’ve learned loads about myself and the players.
“Being a part-time manager is not a part-time job. It’s full-time. It’s something I love and at a club I’ve got a strong affiliation with.
“I’m happy with how the management team has progressed, but we’re under no illusions we’ve still got loads to learn.
“Competing in competitions like the Betfred Cup, going up against experienced managers like Jack Ross and Paul Hartley, this is the arena we want to be in.”
That Scottish Cup tie brought him up against David Hopkin, a man no stranger to SPFL promotions, and both Ross and Hartley have done likewise in the last decade with St Mirren, Dundee and Alloa Athletic.
Brora will come up against Ross and Hartley’s current clubs Hibernian and Cove Rangers in the Betfred Cup – due to get under way in October – as well as Championship side Dundee and Forfar Athletic.
William Powrie, the Brora chairman, estimates it will mean £25,000 in income for the Sutherland club, which like many has been hit hard by the shutdown.
Mackay added: “Any revenue that comes through our door at the moment is well-needed. Every Highland League club is the same, they don’t have a massive pot of cash. This situation has hit every club hard and we’re delighted we can generate additional revenue to help stem the losses, in regards to the end of last season.
“There’s a massive hole in our budget and this cup competition has helped plug that slightly.”