Stenhousemuir striving to survive on and off the park

Davie Irons and Brown Ferguson.
Davie Irons and Brown Ferguson.

Should the Warriors finish the forthcoming campaign out of the relegation play-offs, it would have to be considered a terrific season.

The financial position of the club is such that cutbacks on and off the park have been a necessity and it has taken all of manager Brown Ferguson’s nous to gather a squad capable of competing in a league where every other side will have a bigger budget than the Ochilview boss.

Ferguson would not, of course, admit it, but in a Betfred League Cup group that contained Queen of the South, Queens Park, Partick Thistle and Airdrie, progressing to the next round was less important than integrating the new players with those that finished in eighth place last May.

Midfielder Vinnie Berry has joined from Queens Park, defender Fraser Kerr who has Birmingham, Motherwell and Cowdenbeath on his CV, striker Jack Smith from East Kilbride and several Trialists from pre-season games are still under consideration. A bonus is also having keeper Colin McCabe agreeing to come back on loan from Celtic for the season after the minder spent a successful second half of last term at Ochilview.

The defeats to newly promoted Queens Park and full time Airdrie in the League Cup left no one in any doubt as to the task facing ‘Muir over the next few months and already the rematch with the Spiders in the second game of the season looks a must win.

If such a suggestion appears premature the reality is that with the likes of Livingston, Peterhead, East Fife, Brechin, Alloa and Stranraer – all considerably better off than the Warriors – points are going to be hard to come by.

Beating Albion Rovers has also been something of a novelty in recent years, so Ochilview fans would be well advised to face reality and show a bit of understanding during the campaign.

That has already been in evidence, however, and the Warriors trust have started to line up fund raising events to raise cash that will be exclusively used for the purchase of players.

Should the above remarks describe a doom and gloom scenario, that is not the intent, rather an excercise in perspective to illustrate the difficulty facing Ferguson and his troops in the coming campaign. He and his staff though, will not be found wanting when it comes to hard work and application. They put a tremendous amount of time into what is supposed to be, after all, a part time job.

The success of so called smaller teams at Euro 2016 proves what can be achieved by good organisation, enthusiasm and a squad of players who want to win for each other.

Ferguson has nurtured that during his tenure down Gladstone Road and the all for one atmosphere is immediately apparent to anyone visiting the ground.

Indeed, the boss sets the standard and is upbeat about the coming term, “It will be difficult,but I don’t see why we can’t do well,” he told Heraldsport, “This was a very tight league last season and I have no doubt it will be similar this time around.

“We obviously finished in eighth place last term, but if you analyse the results you will see that numerous games were decided by the odd goal or a bad break. In the coming campaign we will be looking to win those type of games rather than lose them as happened too often last term.”

The manager understands the need for a reduced budget and looks at things positively, “We are where we are,” he continued, but I’m pleased with the players we have brought in. It’s good that Colin McCabe enjoyed being here last year so much he wanted to come back. He knows we can offer him the opportunity to improve and Vincent Berry impressed me during last season’s play-offs. He is someone who can patrol the middle of the park for us. Fraser Kerr broke his hand at Cowdenbeath last term and lost game time, but he brings a load of experience. Jack Smith put us to the sword in the League Cup when he was with east Fife Kilbride last term and he has a lot of experience also despite being just 21.

“There will also be a chance for the younger players to come in when possible, but the transfer window is not yet closed and we will try to bring in players if we can.

“We do not have a lot of money, but we can give players a platform here and we would only want those who are hungry and ambitious.

“It is not all gloom and doom. We will certainly be striving to win every game to see where it takes us and we can’t wait for it all to begin.”