Boss fumes at Lister u-turn

WHEN the Warriors and Berwick Rangers meet next season there is sure to be an added edge.

John Coughlin, who departed the Shielfield Park managerial seat before taking over at Ochilview last October, is fuming that his former club has nicked Camelon Juniors striker Jim Lister from under his nose.

The Scottish Junior international had already agreed to join the Warriors but has now made a u-turn and opted to follow his former manager at the Mariners, Allan McGonigal, south instead.

"I had an offer for Lister and Andy Shirra accepted ages ago and both players signed the relevant forms," Coughlin told Heraldsport.

"Camelon wanted to keep them until the end of the season as they were in the running for the league championship and, out of courtesy, I agreed.

"I then got a call last Saturday evening from Camelon secretary Robert McTaggart – who seemed as shocked as me – to tell me Lister said he was joining Berwick instead.

"It seems that my allowing the players to stay at the club was seen as a weakness.

"I've already told Allan McGonigal of my feelings on the matter. I feel badly let down by him and Jim, because the only reason both players were still at Camelon was because I allowed it."

Stenhousemuir's case, should they wish to pursue it, could find favour with the Scottish League.

However, although totally disgusted, Coughlin's demeanour suggested he would just get on with things.

"I have no problems with Camelon, they were completely blameless," he added.

What happens to the totally innocent Shirra was still up in the air as Heraldsport went to press though, but that deal could also be called off.

"I feel sorry for Andy in all of this," Coughlin said. "He has done everything right, but I will still have to make a decision."

Camelon secretary Robert McTaggart was equally upset with how things have developed.

"I only met our players after our game against Bonnyrigg last weekend," he said. "It was then Jim told me he was signing for Berwick.

"I immediately called John Coughlin – who knows there was no committee involved in the deal – and told him we were helpless. It was between him and Allan and we are all upset at what has happened.

"I want to point out again that no committee member here influenced the matter.

"We have had a good relationship over many years with Stenhousemuir and would want to continue that.

"Alan did a great job for us as manager here and we obviously want to continue that good relationship as well. We feel a bit like piggy in the middle and nobody would be happier than us if both sides could resolve their differences."

That is unlikely in the near future, but the furore has not stopped the 'Muir boss making further efforts to strengthen his squad. Andy Brand's transfer from East Stirlingshire was done and dusted at the end of last week for a nominal fee and midfielder Ian Thomson joins his other ex-Berwick team-mates Chris McGroarty and Jordan Smith at Ochilview.

Left sided defender John Ovenstone has put pen to paper as well and the former Forfar man's inclusion – added to the above trio – will give experienced support to Coughlin's youngsters.

Goalkeeper Keiron Renton was also signed up in what was a busy week for the boss and the former Raith Rovers minder, although still only 24, is another with good experience at a higher level.

"I am delighted to have got these players in, but I still need another goalie, another midfielder and, with the Lister debacle, another striker," Coughlin added.

"I am pleased enough with the way things are going, but I will keep trying to improve the squad right up until kick-off because we want to have a real go for promotion in the forthcoming season."