West Ham United headed back to London on Friday evening after a successful first week of pre-season on the east coast of Scotland.
For assistant first team coach Billy McKinlay, the trip to St Andrews was a return to familiar ground for a man who began his professional career a mere 30 miles up the road at Dundee United.
It is also familiar territory for the Hammers, who have kicked-off their pre-season preparations with a camp in the town three years in a row.
The players were put through their paces on the pitch, in the gym, during runs on the town’s beaches, on bike rides and in the swimming pool.
McKinlay was delighted with the work that was put in and is excited for the next stage of pre-season, when the team head to Évian-les-Bains in the French Alps next week.
“It’s been really good, back here with the lads and the coaches in a place we know really well,” the former Scotland international confirmed. “We love coming up here in this environment, it suits us well so it’s been a great week.
“We’ve started pre-season here for the last three years now and we’re always looked after really well. The facilities are fantastic and that’s the most important thing for getting the work into the lads.”
The week in St Andrews has led into successful campaigns for the Hammers in 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Now, McKinlay and the team are relishing the prospect of another season which will see us compete in European competition.
“We’ve had a brilliant few seasons and did really well last year – in the end we were probably slightly disappointed that we didn’t quite get what we wanted at the end of that,” he continued.
“We’re hungry to go again and we want to keep progressing and building on the foundations from the past couple of years.”
McKinlay was also able to catch up with some friendly faces at the St Andrews University pitches, where Dundee United also train.
The Glaswegian turned out over 200 times for the Tannadice club between 1988 and 1995, and he recalled fond memories of his time there.
The Terrors finished fourth in the Scottish Premiership last season and, like West Ham, will compete in the UEFA Europa Conference League in 2022/23.
“I had a brilliant time at Dundee United, which was the foundation of my career as a player and a coach, through what I learned from everybody there,” he added.
“It was really nice to see them, they had a brilliant season last year and I know they're optimistic about building on what they did again for next year.”