East Stirlingshire chairman Tony Ford admits he feels “nothing but sympathy” for the club’s new coaching staff and players after watching the team concede eleven goals in their first two matches.
Shire lost 7-1 to Falkirk in the Petrofac Training Cup and last week were dumped out of the League Cup 4-0 at the hands of Ayr United but Ford remains convinced rookie boss Craig Tully and his new-look squad will come good.
The team travels to Montrose this weekend in their SPFL Scottish League Two opener and any kind of result would give them a significant morale boost. But their cause has not been helped by a suspension for David McKenna after his red card against Ayr United on Saturday.
However, Ford says the results so far have not reflected the hard work being done to get things right on the pitch.
“I have been to almost every training session since the players came back after the summer break and the amount of work Craig, his coaches and the players have put into things has been fantastic, “ he said. “So to see that translate into two heavy defeats in the opening two matches is disappointing.
“But you can’t feel anything but sympathy for them. If you were at these games you would know how close we came to matching two very good teams from higher divisions and how things swung on individual moments that could have changed their outcome.”
The results in the two early cups should not always be used as a bellweather for Shire’s league form. Last season was a case in point where they were knocked out of both before the league kicked-off and then went on to win their first three games of the campaign.
“We have missed a number of key players in these opening two games and I’m sure when we get a full-fit and available squad we will be more than competitive in the league,” said the chairman.
Shire should be able to welcome back centre-half Chris Townsley for the Montrose match and are close to getting midfielders Neil McCabe and Paul McMullan back to full fitness. Tully will have to find a replacement for main striker McKenna but has options available to him.
Club chairman Ford has paid tribute to the work done by Tully and his coaches in getting Shire ready for another season but is reminding fans that keeping them competitive at this level does not get any easier.
“We remain a fan-owned club and we are proud of that fact,” he said. “But it means we are not able to call on the financial help of wealthy benefactors or businessmen, so it falls on the club’s supporters to raise the vital finance to ensure we can continue to compete,” he said.
The club, together with the supporters trust, is organising a series of fundraising events throughout the course of the season, starting on Sunday with a Family Fun Day at Shire’s training HQ at Little Kerse.
There will be plenty of fun activities for kids and the rest of the family with the event starting at noon. Some of the club’s players are set to be in attendance and Ford is offering an open invitation.
“We would love to see as many people as possible down at Little Kerse on Sunday,” he said. “A great deal of work has gone into the organisation of the Fun Day and we would love to see that pay off with lots of people coming along to enjoy themselves and help us raise some money to help the club improve both on and off the pitch,” said Ford.