The Team behind The Team – Andy Mackenzie

Q&A with Andy Mackenzie

  • When did you join the club?

I joined in February 2011. Livi were away to Ayr United – as was my last game working for St Mirren. Foxy scored a volley from the edge of the box to seal a 3-0 win.

  • How did you joining come about?

I was number two at St Mirren and had been told by one of the players that Livingston were looking for someone to fill the role. I came in and spoke to Gary Bollan and assessed a few players – Beany (Iain Russell) and Paul Watson, if I remember correctly. I was offered the job after that and started that week.

Apparently Beany and Watson pretended to be me after I left the interview and were ordering food and tea from the kitchen staff to be taken down to physio room!

  • Did you ever envisage when you joined the club that we’d be back in the Premiership?

When I joined the club, we were in the 2nd Division (League 1 now) and I had just left a Premier League team. I thought that Livingston were not too far away from Premiership quality.  We held our own in the Championship for a good few years but always had the team that was capable of promotion in my opinion .

  • What does a typical, midweek working day consist of for you?

I like to arrive early at the stadium to get set up for the day. The players start at 9 with injured players arriving first. I assess them and we come up with their plan for that day. Normally their week is planned ahead but there can be day-to-day difference depending on good days and bad days.  Then I do any treatments the training players require. Next we do a prehab/activation session every day before training.

Whilst the team trains, I assist injured players in the gym with any techniques that they are struggling with on their programmes as well as take them onto the pitch for their running/technical drills and be available for anything that happens on the training pitch.

Normally on a double session we do a fitness session in afternoon for players.  Cheb will take a group session and allow me to work on a 1-to-1 if needed.  I finish the day with keeping my notes up to date.

  • What does your matchday entail?

Match day starts at pre-match. For home games, I help Cheb get set-up for the game and for away games, Cheb and I travel together and make sure the changing room is set up for the players arriving. The Gaffer does the team talk and then I give any last treatments the players need to get ready for the game. I start the warm-up with a band activation session and then go inside and get everything ready for kickoff.

At half-time, I make sure players have everything they need and communicate with management on any issues as quick as you can.

You never really get to watch the match properly.  You’re always 2/3 seconds behind the game.  You’re checking on a player that went down off the pitch or after a tackle, making sure they get back up and continue in game.

At full-time, I check on the players and give immediate care if needed.  I then take the subs for their extra running to keep them up to speed as best as possible.

  • What do you enjoy most about your role/being at the club?

The way the club is run – and at the moment, it’s a really, really good working environment. There is a lot of trust among the staff. It’s not just the football staff, it’s everyone in the office, kitchen and maintenance departments that come together.

However, on the other side of the coin, there is no-one and no subject safe from a ribbing – you have to be on your toes constantly!

  • Highlight of your time here?

There have been many highlights in recent years. Petrofac Cup win,  getting back-to-back promotions, staying in the top flight. But, if you’re looking at one exact moment, it has to be Pittman’s goal against Dundee Utd in the Premiership play-off semi-final first-leg for me.  Shauny Byrne pressing the ball like a madman, Pitts running beyond, megging Mohsni then dinking the goalie – and Raffa running the whole sideline to join in the celebration! I think it really symbolised what we were all about that season.

  • Who do you rank as the best player you’ve seen at the club over the years (past or present)?

Very tough as there have been some very exceptional footballers at Livingston over my time. During the first few years, Liam Fox and Burton O’Brien were great guys both on and off the pitch.

I will have to take the easy way out though and pick the team that got us promoted to the Premiership. As a collective, the boys were brilliant and everyone played their part. Our major strength was the team with no individuals.

Maybe Marvin could have changed my mind had he joined us before his legs were gone…!

  • Given the nature of your job, you’ll spend a lot of time with players who are potentially at their lowest given their lack of football due to injury. Do you then have to help players manage the mental side of that injury too?

I think it’s very important to establish trust with the player and make them involved with the decision making around their injury. If the player takes ownership of the injury, you’re honest with them and set goals together. I find you get more good results than bad.

At Livingston we try to create a culture of hard-work but have good fun at same time and that applies equally to injured players as well.

  • Have you lived down the infamous bandage incident with Declan Gallagher yet?

The short answer is – No! However, the question that everyone forgets to ask is “Did he get back onto the pitch quickly and safely!?”

We never conceded during the time he was off the pitch or after he returned and in the end, we got promoted to the Premiership… 🤷‍♂️

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