Club legend Derek Ure gave East Stirlingshire something to be cheerful about this week by signing a new one year deal ahead of their forthcoming Lowland League season.
Coach John Sludden had been confident of coaxing another season out of the Shire club captain, who will turn 34 later this month, and after giving Ure all the time he required over the summer to mull things over, Sludden is delighted with the outcome.
“That was a big bonus for us,” he said. “Derek is so important to us both on and off the park and is such a big influence around the club. We needed to give him time to let his body recover after last season, but he did indicate that if he felt fine then he would be back.”
Ure’s influence is obvious – the midfielder has become a talisman for Shire, a club he first joined as a teenager and for whom he has clocked more than 300 appearances.
“He’s getting older, obviously,” said the coach, “And it’s clear that we will have to manage things carefully but his influence is so great that it was a priority to get him back and we are delighted Derek will be staying for another season.”
Sludden’s immediate priority now is to get the two players from last season’s squad who have not yet agreed terms to sign up again. The coach’s own son, Paul, and midfielder Jamie McCormack are big players for Shire and the coach is making every effort to get them both back on board.
The situation is complicated with both players’ lives away from football which, as Sludden explained, has thrown up considerations for them to weigh up. “Jamie is working away from home in Dumfries and Paul has moved to Forfar where he has taken up a job as a PE teacher,” he said. “So if they were to commit they would also have to put in a fair amount of travelling. It’s not a simple situation but we are putting a lot of effort into trying to persuade both of them to sign because they are important players for us.”
Shire fans get a chance to see the side on Thursday when they face English Northern Premier League side, Frickley Athletic, at the Falkirk Stadium (kick-off 7pm).
The visitors are managed by former Shire vice-chairman Spencer Fearn, whose time at the club coincided with a couple of ultimately unsuccessful promotion runs when they were still in SPFL League Two.
With the players back in training for little more than a week Sludden accepts that he won’t be reading too much into their performance against the Yorkshiremen. His squad for the game will contain a few unfamiliar faces as he copes with having a number of his signed players unavailable due to holiday commitments.
“It will be a little bit of a mix and match squad,” said Sludden. “There will be trialists and guys on holiday.”