A FOOTBALL coach is celebrating treble success after swapping East Lothian for Australia’s Gold Coast.

Paul Montgomery left his role as co-manager ofPrestonpans side Preston Athletic at the end of last year and moved to Australia with his girlfriend, Valerie Quin, from Cockenzie.

Last weekend, he was celebrating helping guide Gold Coast Knights to an impressive treble, as assistant to club boss Scott McDonald, the former Celtic and Motherwell striker.

Paul, 30, speaking to the Courier before jetting off on holiday to Fiji ,said: “It’s a special moment to win the treble. First season in a new country, in a new role as assistant head coach and working with Scott McDonald, took me completely out of my comfort zone, so to be able to contribute so much to a treble-winning side is brilliant.

“I feel that winning the treble is my biggest achievement so far in football, especially as I’ve done it in senior football and can use this now as a platform to go further.”

The club lifted the Kappa Cup, before going on to clinch the National Premier League (NPL) Queensland by 10 points from nearest rivals Moreton Bay United.

The top six sides in NPL Queensland then go on to qualify for the NPL Queensland Finals.

Paul, a former Ross High School pupil, said: “We played a team called Peninsula Power in the semi-finals.

“They finished sixth and we won that 5-0 and then went through to the final against Moreton Bay United.

“We had not beaten them all year, drawing twice, and they finished second in the league.

“They are more aggressive, more physical, but we won the final 1-0.

“The grand final is like a big thing here. They used Suncorp Stadium, which was used for the Women’s World Cup, and is a 52,000 seater stadium.”

Paul, who was emptying bins with East Lothian Council before moving to Australia, did his football coach A licence alongside former Australia international McDonald about seven years ago.

The two lost touch but a mutual friend put them back in contact after Paul moved to Australia at the beginning of the year. Now he works fulltime as assistant head coach to Scott, while also taking charge of the club’s under-18s side.

Paul, who previously guided Preston Athletic’s development side to the Scottish Lowland Football League Development League Conference B title, told the Courier: “Scott is intense. Everything is like 100 miles per hour but I love it.

“We will sit and speak on the phone for hours and then be in the office and go over things, sending video clips and then there is actual training and games.

“You think you know the game pretty well and then, with where he has been and his experiences, he says a few things you would never have thought of. Playing with Celtic and in the Champions League, his experiences are second to none.”

Paul, who previously worked in the academies at both Hibs FC and Livingston, is no stranger to Australia, having twice visited in the last six years.

He said: “I came in 2017 and that was always just to be a year. I came back in 2020 hoping to stay but Covid hit and then this year I came out with Valerie. The lifestyle and stuff is so laid-back compared to Scotland.

“Here, if you get the day off you can go to the beach or walk up the hills. People will go and sit at a coffee shop and it feels laid-back.

“We are still adjusting at times; if you arrange to meet an Australian at 9am, they are not turning up until 9.30am! It is like a ‘tomorrow will do’ attitude.

“Valerie is a nurse and, compared to the NHS, it is night and day for her. It is not anywhere near as hectic.

“She is working in a private hospital here and her life is a lot better.”

Paul said it was “tough” to compare the Australian second tier to what was on offer back home in Scotland.

He highlighted that former Newcastle United and Crewe Alexandra midfielder Brad Inman – who played for Scotland under-19s and under-21s – was among the squad.

He said: “There are some players in our team that could probably go and play and compete in the Scottish Championship back home.

“There are other players that would be Lowland League or League Two. It just varies.”

And he revealed that, despite being away from East Lothian for more than six months, he still has a close bond with Paul Currie and John Daly, now co-managers at Preston Athletic.

One of the Gold Coast Knights’ players is currently training with Hibs and Paul revealed he had tried to encourage some of his former players to make the move in the opposite direction.

He said: “I keep in touch with quite a lot of the players as well, probably more so the players from the under-20s.

“I still speak to them and try to encourage them to come out and try it.

“Those boys that have maybe got trades – plumbers or electricians – come over here and double their wages. Even if they play in divisions below us, they can still pick up 200 [Australian[ dollars a game.”