Peterhead FC: Shire boss Tully sad to leave Balmoor

DIV 2   PETERHEAD V STIRLING ALBION'(DUNCAN BROWN)''JIM MCINALLY WITH ASSISTANTS DAVIE NICHOLLS (L) AND CRAIG TULLY GET THEIR HANDS ON THE LEAGUE TROPHY

DIV 2 PETERHEAD V STIRLING ALBION'(DUNCAN BROWN)''JIM MCINALLY WITH ASSISTANTS DAVIE NICHOLLS (L) AND CRAIG TULLY GET THEIR HANDS ON THE LEAGUE TROPHY

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The Blue Toon have waved goodbye to coach and former player Craig Tully after the 38-year-old was chosen as the new East Stirlingshire boss.

Tully made more than 100 appearances for Peterhead in a career which saw him play for a host of Scottish clubs.

Replacing the departing John Coughlin at the Shire - where he made 60 appearances between 2008 and 2011 - marks Tully’s first foray into management.

After he watched the Blue Toon win 2-1 at Berwick on Saturday, Tully told the Buchanie: “I’m excited to be moving on as the manager of East Stirlingshire but it was a sad day for me because I love Peterhead and I’ve loved being here.

“It was a massive decision for me and it was just one of those things that I had to give it a try.”

Tully is following in the footsteps of Blue Toon boss Jim McInally who coached the Ochilview club earlier in his career.

Tully continued: “I spoke to Jim and asked his opinion and I decided I’d give it a try.”

McInally admits he was in two minds about losing his trusted adviser.

He said: “When Tulls suggested to me he wanted to go for it I knew I was in a position to help him because of my relationship with the chairman and the club.

“I was torn - he’s invaluable to us as a club but I’ve also been in the same position as him where I wanted to go and try it myself. I’m happy because he’s got what he wanted - if he hadn’t gone for it he might not have got another chance.”

Saturday’s trip across the border will likely be the last time Tully and McInally sit in a dugout together, 16 years after their partnership began at Dundee.

The pair parted ways after playing together for the Dark Blues before McInally took over at East Stirlingshire in 2008 and brought Tully in as a player and coach.

The former Arbroath, Elgin and Ross County defender then accompanied his mentor to Balmoor in 2011.

Tully added: “When we were on the tema bus home on Saturday I was talking to some of the supporters and we were saying it would be Sod’s law that we get drawn against Peterhead in one of the cups.

“If that was the case then I’d love to come back to Balmoor - the place has always been in my heart.”

Tully decision to move comes in the wake of John Coughlin’s refusal of a contract extension at Ochilview.

Coughlin has struggled during his tenure, having guided the team to two consecutive bottom spots before rising to eighth this campaign.

In a statement on the club website, Shire secretary Tadek Kopszywa said: “There is no doubt John will be a hard act to follow, there can be few more professional, hard-working coaches in Scottish football than John Coughlin and the commitment he has shown to the cause of improving the Shire’s fortunes has been considerable.

“But one thing has impressed us more than anything about Craig and that was his desire to grasp the opportunity that was offered.

“His enthusiasm for the task facing him is considerable and no-one who has encountered Craig Tully would doubt his desire and his capacity for hard work.”

And the plaudits for the departing coach - who also made several appearances as a stand-in centre back this season - have flooded in from his players.

Veteran goalkeeper Graeme Smith said: “I’m really chuffed he’s got the job.

“Tulls has been a really good friend and a really good coach since I joined the club.

“He implements a lot of his ideas in training and a lot of the drills are down to him.

“It’ll be a change for him because management’s a different ball game all together but I think he’s looking forward to it.”

Now that Peterhead’s title-winning campaign has come to a close, Tully can turn his attention to his new role and next season.

“The last couple of days have been mayhem trying to get contacts for players, trying to get the right people in and hopefully improving the team.

“I’ve things in my head that I’d like to implement, a structure and a way to play and I think we can be challenging.”