Relegation is all the motivation needed for East Stirlingshire to progress in the league, says club captain Chris Townsley.
The defender admitted last season ended on a low, but when evaluating the past 12 months believes things overall are looking up for the Shire.
This season, finishing bottom could lead to a drop into the Lowland League against the likes of Spartans, Selkirk and East Kilbride FC. That’s something they all want to avoid, says Townsley, who has first-hand experience of playing in a similar division with Spartans.
“I really enjoy The Shire – it’s a great club, there are a lot of good people here and it’s good to do well for them here.
“I was always comfortable coming back here for the second of my two-year deal. Everything looks like moving forward – there’s progress on the field and off it. It’s an exciting time for the Shire, but it’s imperative we stay in the league.
“Going into the Lowland League is not something we can have for The Shire. I’ve played in the East of Scotland league for Spartans before and it’s a dark place to go.
“You’d be hard to get out and back up from there. It’s important to start the seasonwell. You don’t want the club to make progress off the park when the players aren’t doing the same on the park. There’s no point having a new stadium, a new stand, a new pitch if the team on it is going backwards. That’s important.
“That’s the motivation, we’ve to match the aspirations of everyone else here.”
Townsley speaks highly of his experience since signing for John Coughlin from Berwick. However the old gaffer departing created a period of flux and eighth place finish disappointed.
“We started off well and then it was a downward sprial but overall I think we made progress as a club which is the main thing.
“We got ourselves off the bottom of the league and had a play-off chance right until a couple of weeks from the end so we were disappointed to end up eighth – I don’t think it was a fair reflection on how good a season we really had, but it does show a progression and it’s good we see that as a disappointment.
“The new manager has brought in players to do that – the new goalie Richie Barnard comes highly recommended, I’ve heard great things about him.
“The Shires had a poor reputation for a while in terms of wages, but people have been surprised at how well run and well treated the club and players are. Everyone here is brand new, you are treated so well, lunch and food after training is great.
“It’s little things people take for granted, you don’t get it everywhere else. The boys coming in are pleasantly surprised. We’ve got our own wee facility at Little Kerse, Robert Jack and the like to look after us. It’s all looking up and the boys we’ve signed are a high standard.
“I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the new gaffer (Craig Tully). I travel in with Michael Bolochoweckyj and he used to play with the gaffer when he was last with the Shire and he was telling me some horror stories but its been good. I’m happy with that. Coming in to training with a smile has an effect on a Saturday.”