DAVID MARTINDALE insists he is thrilled to be giving Neil Hastings a start in professional football after remembering how Livingston’s new first-team coach welcomed him to the club eight years ago.

Martindale has since worked his way up to become manager of the Lions and head of football operations at Almnondvale, but has remembered Hastings’ help.

When Martindale arrived in 2014, Hastings was part of the coaching staff and the 29-year-old has since gone on to be assistant-manager at Cowdenbeath and Berwick Rangers.

He returns to the West Lothian club after a two-year spell as boss of Gala Fairydean Rovers in the Lowland League.

Martindale said: “When I first came into Livingston Football Club eight years ago, Neil Hastings was already part of the coaching staff and used to help out with the youth academy, and I remember Neilly making me feel really welcome in my first year at the club.
“Unfortunately, resources and finances at the club were cut the following year and, sadly, Neilly didn’t have his contract renewed at the time.

“So, it was always in the back of my head that, if at all possible, and if we were in a better place in the future, I would look to try and bring him back, because I think he was a wee bit unfortunate last time round and I already knew he was a really good coach.
“I’m delighted to bring him back in and delighted to be able to give someone an opportunity into professional football because it can sometimes be somewhat of a closed shop and very difficult to get in.
“I was given an opportunity here myself eight years ago and I’m delighted that I can offer that same opportunity to Neil Hastings, and equally delighted that he’s accepted the job.”

As a player at Livingston, Hastings moved into community coaching when still just 19 and left as a player in 2014.

He said: “It’s great to be back at the club after all these years. I was fortunate enough to come through the youth academy here so the club has a special place in my heart, so it’s good to be back about the place again.
“A big thank you to Davie Martindale for giving me the opportunity to come in and coach in the Premiership and I’m looking forward to helping to continue the positive and progressive journey that the club has been on over recent years.
“I really enjoyed my time at Gala, a club full of great people and I wish Jimmy [Martin Scott] all the best in his new role, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in here and doing my best to help improve the club and improve my own skills as a coach along the way.”