Author Archive

Scottish Cup Disappointment

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Goals change football matches.  More often than not the first goal in any game is key.  Yesterday, I made a big call which cost cost us dearly.  We lost 2 goals in 2 mins when down to 10 men, both in 1st half injury time.  Up until corner one, we were comfortable in a game where I felt we had developed the upperhand.  

However, history will show that it was an error of judgement on my part, when electing to go with 10 men until Ali received treatment, that cost us (as Sir Clive Woodward said, ‘winning doesn’t happen in a straight line’).  Wick have some talented players, were unrecognisable to the Team I watched the week before (we wish them well in the next round and for the season as a whole).  

I will learn from yesterday’s experience, as a group we will bank the lessons learned from yesterday together and move on.  This team and many of the young, inexperienced players in the squad best years are in front of them.  I remain confident that each player will improve during the course of the season and beyond, that our side will develop and grow.  It’s unfair to compare new signings or players coming through with the star players that have left in recent years, we are comparing players at different stages in their career and development. 

Yesterday was a blow, our Club has not tasted a Scottish Cup run for a few seasons now…I’m fully aware of what it means to everyone involved with the Club.  It was sad to see so many E of S Clubs fall at the first hurdle, I’m sure most of them will have their own ‘if only’ moments to reflect back on.  In the end we fell short in terms of execution and meeting our expectations of ourselves yesterday, but not in terms of effort and application. 

Our league campaign starts next Saturday vs. The Strollers away (who along with The Vale and Edinburgh City enjoyed a great result yesterday – I’m delighted for all 3 Clubs), when we have a chance to bounce back.

‘Watt’ a Feeling

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

There’s something special about ‘match day’, an extra spring in the step, lots of early morning thoughts about team shape, tactics and so on.  Last Saturday we played a friendly and although it was a great workout for us, knowing everyone else had competitive matches meant we knew ‘something was missing’, that extra edge that comes from knowing the game means something.  Following our run-out at the Academy I watched a very good Heriot Watt side defeat Vale of Leithen 3-0 at Innerleithen. As ever, Michael has his side playing attractive football, set-up well and difficult to beat. On an early season pitch at Riccarton, I’m expect a cracking game this evening.  On the player front, Willie Bremner remains on the sidelines, however, on the upside both Alistair and Cloudy are both available again.  Like most people, I’ve spent the last few weeks watching the Olympics, enjoying the action and hearing all about people’s ‘journey to success’.  Each and everyone who took part had their own story to tell, had overcome obstables and persevered, had received support from others and made huge sacrifices to achieve their goal. To watch them fulfil their dreams was truly inspiring….only time will tell if we can fulfil ours, the next stop on our journey is Riccarton (tonight’s game is a 7.30pm kick off).

A Belated Start

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

As everyone knows, tonight we make a belated start to our 12/13 campaign.  As you can imagine, it was extremely disappointing for everyone connected with the Club to be told at 10.30am on Saturday morning our game vs. Ormiston had been postponed.  With the game postponed at such short notice, we elected to train at the Academy, which was beneficial for everyone who took part, in particular those players returning from injury.

Looking back on our pre-season programme, for me there was lots of positives.  Our goals for pre-season were relatively straight forward, namely to (1) prepare our new squad as best we could on and off the park, (2) introduce some new methods and ideas, (3) recruit some new signings, replacements for those players who have moved on and lastly (4) begin the process on creating a real sense of togetherness and unity
throughout the squad.  On all 4 fronts, the coaching staff and I are happy with the progress which has been made to date.

More than anyone, I fully appreciate a great deal of work lies ahead, no one is kidding themselves, we know we are in a transition phase.  Just now, our squad can been classed as ‘work in progress’.  However, we are blessed with good players, some top players at our level and have high hopes for the future.  As with any journey there will be bumps and bruises along the way.  We will ‘learn to win big’ by experiencing the pain of defeat, it’s the very nature of developing and building teams which can win football matches and trophies on a regular basis.

We’d love to get off to a winning start, to begin the process of turning Ainslie Park into our own mini-fortress, a place where Teams know they face one of their toughest away games of the season.  For some, tonight will be the first competitive game in a Spartans jersey, whilst for others it will the start of another campaign in red in white.  What is certain is that all of the players involved tonight are determined to make their mark, to play their part in restoring the Club to its former glories. Ds


The Big Kick-off

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

The shadow boxing is over, like most players, coaches, managers and fans it feels different waking up today. Today the new football season starts for real. For a large number of clubs in East of Scotland it’s been a summer of significant change, the start of a new era. In our case, on the park we have lost a large number of experienced players, players who helped to deliver success. Only time (and it will take time) will tell if the new staff and players brought in this summer can reach similar heights. As a player, players such as Omar and Deano improved over a large period of time. I believe each and everyone of our new signings best years are in front of them. The average age of our new squad in comparison to years gone by is significantly lower. Patience (especially when working with younger players and managing change), faith and a great deal of work lies ahead to deliver the goals we have set for ourselves. Our senior players provide us with a great platform to build, players coveted by lots of other Clubs because of their talent and pedigree. As with every other side, especially at this time of the season, sadly we have players missing today – Cloudy, Ali MacKinnon and Willie Bremner – however, it’s part and parcel of the game. On the upside both Jack and Donal will be in the 16 today, ready to take the next step towards achieving full fitness. In addition our most recent new signing Andy Martin (ex Peebles and Vale of Leithen) will be in the squad today. Andy brings something different to the table, is a player I’ve admired for a number of years. Surrounded and swamped by so much sport these past few weeks, it’s been truly inspiring to see and follow others achieving their dreams and ambitions. It’s also the perfect reminder that in the end, it’s the journey and not the destination that really counts. I for one can’t wait to get started for real…at 2.30pm today the train leaves the station.

Re-united with Old Friends

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

This coming Saturday we welcome our good friends from Annan Athletic to the Academy for our 2nd pre-season fixture (kick off 2.30pm).  It’s no secret that both Clubs have enjoyed a great relationship for a numbers of years.  On a personal level, it will be great to see the likes of Henry, Alan and Harry again.  It’s been truly fantastic following the Club’s excellent progress since it joined the SFL ranks.  Looking back on last Sunday, our 0-0 draw with Falkirk U20s delivered several positives.  It also provided us with an indication of where we are in terms of our general fitness and highlighted 1 or 2 areas for development going forward.  Overall, everyone was satisfied it was a good start, something positive to build on. Unfortunately this coming weekend we will be missing up to 7 players, however, I’m hopeful that we will have 1 or 2 trialists taking part (definately missing will be Sivewright, MacKinnon, Seeley, Beesley and Henretty).  The squad is in good shape, however, we know we are 1 or 2 players short of where we would like to be in an ideal world both in terms of depth of experience, but more importantly the balance of the squad.  Roll on Saturday and the next step in our new group’s preparations and development – Sammy.

Friendly vs. Falkirk XI

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Tomorrow we welcome a Falkirk XI to the Academy for this the first of 5 x pre season games in preparation for season 12/13.  It’s a special day for our 3 x new signings – all 3 will start and take the first step in what we hope will be long and successful careers in red and white.  For me, tomorrow is a chance to assess the impact of our 5 x training sessions to date, it’s an opportunity to establish where we are in terms of our fitness.  Sadly, Beezer (injury), Donal (injury), Johnny (working) and Danny (paternity leave – on behalf of everyone at the Club, our very best wishes and congratulations go to OD and Chloe on the birth of their new daughter Mary-grace, born earlier today) are all unavailable, however, our squad of 15/16 will include 2 trialists.