Top of the league after one game and the best may still be to come. That’s the cheery summary coming out of East Stirlingshire after one of the club’s happiest weeks in a long time.
Shire ended a 12 game losing streak at Hampden on Saturday; the 3-1 triumph against Queen’s Park was their first win since February when they recorded a 3-2 victory over Elgin City, who by co-incidence are the visitors to Ochilview this weekend.
And coach John Coughlin, while delighted with the three point haul at the National Stadium believes his team’s best days are still ahead of them.
“We have made a number of changes over the summer all of which we hope will make us a better team,” he said.
“The people who run the club have made extra funds available to bring in quality players and I think we saw evidence of what they will bring to the team.
“But we are a new team and people are still finding out about each other and we are getting used to patterns of play. Hopefully, increased familiarity will mean improved team performances in the weeks and months ahead.”
The biggest task facing Shire backing last weekend’s result up with another one of substance. Elgin City suffered a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Albion Rovers at the weekend, and according to many pundits have lost some of their better players to big-spending clubs in the Highland League.
That is not leading the Shire boss into a false sense of security ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“They will still be a good team and we will have to be at our best if we want to take something from the game,” he said. “There are improvements we can still make and despite winning comfortably last weekend I will want to see better performances in some areas of the pitch than we got at Queen’s Park.”
The good news for Shire fans is that both Max Wright and Jamie Glasgow, who came off early at Hampden with injuries, were able to participate in a full training session at Little Kerse on Tuesday evening.
There is concern over Scott Maxwell who sat out the night’s work but the hope is that the rest will allow him to return to action by the weekend. Iain Thomson also missed training earlier in the week but that was simply a precaution and the scorer of Shire’s first goal in the SPFL should be fine for Saturday.
The club is hoping the new-found optimism will be reflected in the turnout at Ochilview this weekend. A run of ten defeats at the end of last season tested the loyalty of some but a fresh season, new signings and a win on the opening day of the league campaign it is hoped will have done wonders.
“Season ticket sales have been good up until now and the news of our summer signings has helped that along,” said club secretary, Tadek Kopszywa. “But we are still selling season tickets this week and people are welcome to pop in to the shop in Bainsford to get one.
“We recognise that these are difficult economic times; that is why we have set up a standing order scheme that allows those purchasing an adult ticket to spread the cost over the entire season with ten monthly payments hopefully making it more manageable.”
Another attraction to tempt fans along to the game will be the launch of the team’s new replica home and third choice strips. If everything goes according to plan they should be on sale for the first time at the Elgin City game.
“We launched the strips almost two weeks ago and the response has been enthusiastic,” said the club secretary. “Sales of replica tops are important to us and our fans are giving a positive reaction to what we have come up with this season.”
The team will wear the new-style home strip against Elgin City on Saturday. The look is a throwback to Shire outfits of the 1970s with the traditional thin one-inch black-and-white hoops and the re-introduction of red socks after an absence of many years.
“It is a very modern strip,” said Kopszywa.
“But the basic design elements hark back to the good old days of Firs Park and Shire legends like Bobby McCulley. We hope people like it.”