No-one’s ever likely to think of East Stirlingshire as ‘living the dream ‘ but John Sludden’s Lowland League squad certainly have a fixture schedule that has a Premier League feel to it.
Games have been moved to Sunday afternoons and their latest outing goes ahead against Stirling University at The Falkirk Stadium on Friday night.
Of course, the switches away from the traditional Saturday 3pm are nothing to do with live television but they bring the same break in routine suffered by fans and players of some of the mightiest clubs in the land. Sludden, though, says he just wants everyone to take the date changes in their stride.
“It shouldn’t really matter too much,” he said. “We have to switch things around in terms of when we train to accommodate a game on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon but it won’t affect how we prepare for each game that we play.”
The Shire boss knows Friday’s encounter with the Airthrey students will be a proper test – they held reigning champions East Kilbride to a draw last weekend and weren’t far off causing a shock win. They have also accumulated more points than Sludden’s men over the first six matches of the new campaign.
“It will be a good test for us,” said the Shire boss. “But we go out with the aim of trying to win every match that we play. It doesn’t matter if we are playing the team at the top of the table or one near the bottom.”
Stirling University should not lack confidence after becoming one of a rare band of Lowland League sides to go to K Park and take points from East Kilbride over the last couple of years. The Shire boss says that result underlines his pre-season point about this campaign being a very different one from last term.
“It shows again that there about six teams at the top all capable of taking points from each other,” he said. “There are none of the big scores we saw last season and if the top teams are winning it’s sometimes down to them scoring very late on in games.”
But he admits his players are champing at the bit to get back into action after Shire were forced to sit idle with last Saturday’s game against Spartans postponed to accommodate the Edinburgh club’s IRN-BRU Cup match against Linfield.
“We trained on Monday night and everyone is certainly looking forward to Friday’s match,” said the Shire head coach. Victory would move Sludden’s men into the main leading pack of early season contenders.
“We know it’s an important game but they are all important at this stage of the season,” he said.