New Season, New Start. Manager Dougie Samuel on the year ahead

Posted on Saturday, August 1st, 2015

It’s been a hectic summer of activity, with all 3 senior Teams – our Lowland League, East of Scotland and Under 20s – all going through a significant amount of change.  As with any significant change, it brings with it a wide range of emotions…it’s safe to say it’s been a summer full of ‘ups and downs’, as signing targets have been secured and/or elected to sign for someone else.

Our Lowland League squad has been completely re-built as a number of experienced players have moved on for a variety of different reasons.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with each & everyone who has moved on and hope all of them are successful on and off the park.  I’ll keep and eye out and follow all of their progress…who knows 1 or 2 may return one day.

However, this weekend is all about the new season ahead, which starts for both our Lowland League and East of Scotland sides.  Both squads have a more youthful look and feel about them as we begin the next chapter in the Spartans story.  There’s no doubt that the Lowland League has raised the bar…comparing what happened in recent times vs. here & now, is like comparing ‘apples and oranges’.  We are now competing with a larger number of hugely ambitious clubs, all investing significant monies in ground development and player recruitment.  In addition, with 4 x Junior Super League Teams based in our locality, as well as other LL sides, a large no of Teams locally are often competing for the same players, so to speak.

So far, we have brought in 6 new players – in no particular order, Scott Maxwell, Davey Greenhill, Keith Murray, Dan Ward, Paul Thomson and Sam Carmichael.  In addition, after being out for all of last season (bar August) Mikey Herd feels like another new singing too.  On top of this, Jackie Blaikie returns from a season long loan at Vale of Leithen and Robbie Ross is back training again.  Lastly, both Blair Carswell and Aaron Murrell have been promoted to the LL squad from our U20 league winning squad from last year.  When you consider Eddie Malone & Dean Horribine only joined earlier this year, this past 6 months has seen a huge turnover in our Lowland League 1st team squad.

Our pre season programme has gone well.  Tough tests have helped to build fitness levels, increase confidence and allowed us to try different formations and combinations.  On the negative side, both Scott Maxwell and Jack Beesley have failed to trap so far, in addition John Grant picked up a hamstring injury in the win over Falkirk.  All 3 will miss the first few games of the season.   Hopefully Granty will only be out for 2-3 games, however, both Maxy and Beezer will be on the sidelines for another few weeks at least.

On Sunday, we start with one of the toughest league fixtures of the whole campaign.  We are up against a Team who have played competitive football in recent weeks and been training full time.  Stirling University are my dark horses for the title this season.  Shelley is settled into the role and I know from speaking with her that she is optimistic about their chances.

Like ourselves, Stirling will be looking to close the gap on the current champions Edinburgh City.  ‘The City’ are the bookies favourites to win the title once more (also with 90% of the people I speak to) and rightly so.  They are a  settled side, expertly coached and managed.  They have an established playing style and are extremely difficult to beat…a quick glance at their pre season results tells you that defensively they remain very strong.

It really is fresh start for us, as a side note…5/6 of our U20s have been fast tracked into our East of Scotland side, where they will be joined by experienced players.  It’s a combination we hope can help our best young talent to develop & grow, whilst enabling us to remain and be competitive at E of S level.  I’m delighted with how quickly Colin Tomassi has settled into his new coaching role with us.  In addition, our U20 squad is once again at the start of a new cycle.

As ever, we will continue to focus on ourselves..and what’s within our control.   Like everyone else throughout the Lowland League, I can’t wait to get started…right now, the over-riding emotion is one of excitement.

‘All the best’ to all of the Teams and Coaches for the season ahead.  Sammy

Next Fixture

Date: 23/07/24
Opponent: Forfar Athletic
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Premier Sports Cup
Kick off: 7.45pm

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