EIGHTEEN months of players’ careers have been lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Dunbar United boss Geoff Jones.

The Seasiders played their first game of 2021 last Thursday when they faced Leith Athletic.

The club from the Capital were 2-1 winners but Jones was pleased to finally get back to football after more than six months without a game.

Easing of coronavirus restrictions meant fans were also allowed into New Countess Park for the first time in more than a year.

Jones said: “It was good to be back. It was still quite a strange environment really.

“You could not use the changing facilities and I hope it goes away before the proper games.

“If it carries on being the case I would be disappointed, but it was good being back together and having the fans in.”

Jones felt his team looked “rusty” in a first half which saw Leith take a 2-0 lead into the interval.

Jamie Devlin managed to pull one back after the break, with Jones feeling his side improved as the game wore on.

Pre-season preparations were to continue yesterday (Wednesday) with a trip to Ormiston.

Dalkeith Thistle, Peebles Rovers and Coldstream will all be played over the coming weeks before the final friendly against Hearts on July 13.

From there, Jones and his players will be hoping for a more straightforward season, with the league kicking off next month.

The manager said: “I said to the players, basically everybody here has lost 18 months of their career.

“Last season really was a non-event and we played a few games.

“When you look back, the first lockdown was in March last year and 18 months have been lost.

“Hopefully, all things going well, this is not another false start and we are going again.

“It was good to be back playing, the players enjoyed it and hopefully they lift restrictions around the game.”

Jones’ men were sitting 14th in the East of Scotland Football League Premier Division when the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The manager has moved to freshen up his squad, with 10 players leaving and eight coming through the door.

James Harley, Zach Szemis, Liam Peden, Jack Duncan, Jordan Cropley, Ryan Malcolm, Darren McTernan, Chris Robertson and Mark McGovern have all moved on, along with former Hearts, Rangers and Scotland man Ian Black.

The 36-year-old’s time with Dunbar was blighted by the pandemic, which limited his number of appearances.

Jones described the departing midfielder as “a cracking player” and said: “He did not play a huge amount last year.

“It did not help that he was sent off in his first game – it was not his fault – but we did have one or two wee challenges.

“I was keen to keep him around the place but he told us he was retiring.

“Once games start, he might change his mind.

“He has something to offer but it just did not work out at Dunbar. That’s what happens and he has left on good terms, there was no fallout.”

In the other direction, Preston Athletic duo Ben Bathgate and Johnny Edmond have joined alongside Michael Fairnie, Jo Purves, Nicky Weir, Scott Hay, Bob Berry and Jamie Devlin.

The manager, the longest-serving in East Lothian, said: “We needed to freshen up a bit.

“We’ve got some new faces and attitudes and a new vibe about the place.

“We wish those leaving well and they all leave on good terms.”