Shire told to shape up or ship out

It will be all hands on deck for Shire this summer
It will be all hands on deck for Shire this summer

East Stirlingshire players will be under military orders as they get in shape for the start of the new season.

The club has called on the help of former navy personnel to help design a fitness regime in the early weeks of pre-season in the hope of getting John Coughlin’s men in the best possible condition for opening matches at the end of July.

It’s the brainchild of Shire chairman, Tony Ford, who is a retired Royal Navy officer and has managed to use some of his armed forces connections to help the club.

“A former navy colleague of mine now runs a company called Scottish Military Fitness who specialise in running fitness courses for people who want to do a bit more than just run round the gym,” said Tony.

“They are all guys with a military background and they have all the right qualifications for the job.

“John had spoken to me about the need to get pre-season training right and he has been very receptive to getting these guys on board.”

Shire have also moved to appoint their own fitness coach who will devise routines for the players over the whole season. Barry Carmichael has been at the club before and has also done work with Morton and other clubs.

The Shire chairman says it is real coup to get a dedicated member of staff to look after the physical conditioning of the players and who can advise on things like diet and lifestyle.

“Landing Barry as part of our backroom staff is like winning a watch,” said Tony. “He is highly-qualified and really knows his stuff. He had a short spell with us about three years ago and obviously enjoyed it then. Barry is really looking forward to getting started.”

The addition of another member of Coughlin’s backroom staff is, according to the chairman, further demonstration that the Shire are determined to move in the right direction after a year of shock therapy aimed at putting their finances in order.

“It is a small indication that we are moving forward,” he said. “Our club is not exactly flush at the moment but where circumstances allow we are determined to do things right.

“Having spoken to the coaching staff at great length about this, we all agreed that our pre-season regime last year was one reason why we ended up bottom of the league.

“We made a poor start, losing ten of our first eleven matches and there is little doubt our lack of preparation made its own contribution to that,” said Ford.

Shire are determined not to be caught out again. Coughlin already has ten signed players and, unlike last year, has set up a permanent training base at Little Kerse.

The addition of the extra personnel to help get the physical fitness of his players to the right level ready for the big kick-off is another key element of trying to lift the club’s fortunes.

The Shire boss is also ahead of the game in terms of organising friendly matches in the run-up to the new campaign. They will undertake a two match mini-tour of the Highlands with games against Rothes and Buckie Thistle, while their final warm-up game will be the Stirlingshire Cup match with Stenhousemuir at Ochilview on Saturday 21st July, seven days before the opening competitive match in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup.

Coughlin is looking to add two more bounce games but will only play friendlies at weekends to allow his training regime the chance to have the maximum effect.

“John has discussed his plans with us in some detail,” said the club chairman.

“There will be no midweek pre-season matches and that will give the fitness guys free rein to do their stuff.

“He has been working hard trying first of all to put a squad in place and that work will continue once he returns from his well-deserved holiday.”