East Stirlingshire will have to do more than play good football to win back their SPFL League 2 place – the players will need to show pride and passion too.
That’s according to coach John Sludden, who this week confirmed the appointment of returning club legend Derek Ure as club captain in a bid to get his players to unite behind a common cause.
“One of the most important things for us is to get a good team spirit,” he said.
“And so far we have brought in players who are characters and that is going to help with that.
“We need a leader in the dressing room and we have brought Derek in.
“He is a quality player and he also has feelings for the club.
“He spent a large part of his career here and I think he will want to get the club back where he feels it belongs, and that’s back in the Scottish League.”
And the coach wants that kind of attitude to rub off on the rest of his players as they bid to bounce right back.
“We need guys who, above all, are committed to being here,” he said.
“We need people who have got the right frame of mind to get us back up.”
He has added two more players in the last week, with full-back Adam Murray and former Camelon Juniors striker David Grant the latest players to sign up.
He still has a few more who have made a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to announce, and that should be done by the end of the week.
Sludden has also been in talks with more players and says they are going well.
“We have been speaking to another four and those talks have gone very well,” he said.
“There are others who are away on holiday right now and we will be talking to them on their return.”
Sludden started with a clean slate when he arrived at Shire – and with the pieces of the jigsaw now stating to fall into place, he senses a more confident, more upbeat mood about the club.
His only real objective is to win the Lowland League, Shire’s only way of achieving the quickest possible return to league football. And he says he is convinced that his signings so far will be good enough to make a serious challenge.
“We missed out on a couple, which is only understandable,” he said.
“But at this time of the season there will be others who come into the equation and who we might like to try and sign.
“From what I have seen of the Lowland League, I’d like to think we’d at least be on a par with its best teams, teams like Spartans and East Kilbride.
“There is a real excitement about it and that’s what we want. The most important thing for us is the league campaign.
“Obviously, there is the prospect of the games against Rangers and Motherwell in the League Cup, but we have to make sure, above all, that we are ready for the opening game of the league season.”
Shire are hoping to get notification of their Lowland League fixture list over the next few days. It’s sure to be a tough schedule, especially over the first few weeks of the season, when it’s likely they will be playing two league matches a week.
That will go a long way towards determining whether Sludden will be able to meet his objective. Meanwhile, he will aim to finalise his squad before the start of the Betfred Cup games
“You always want to get your squad finalised by the time pre-season starts but you know that isn’t always going to happen,” said the Shire boss.
“But we are going to bring in more guys next week and I’d hope in the next four weeks we will have things worked out.”