Sludden and Mooney to lead Shire’s Lowland League debut

Martyn Mooney and John Sludden
Martyn Mooney and John Sludden

East Stirlingshire’s new team of John Sludden and Martin Mooney say they want to create a winning mentality at the club to return Shire to the SPFL in one go.

The former Camelon Juniors managerial duo only took over their positions at the start of the week with a club looking at life outside Scottish football’s elite for the first time since the mid-1950s.

And neither are under any illusions about the task they face. Shire are the first club to exit the SPFL under the recently created pyramid play-off system following their defeat to Edinburgh City two weeks ago. However Sludden says it’s not quite a complete step into the unknown for him despite only ever coaching in the juniors.

“I’ve watched a lot of Lowland League over the past few years,” said the former Ayr United striker. “A lot of junior football is 100 mile an hour stuff while in the Lowland technical standards are better.”

While getting Shire back into League Two is the priority, both men know that will be a tough ask with no team likely to be in any way awed by their arrival.

That said, Sludden is prepared to admit that it will be hard not to see Shire as a ‘scalp’ for the other sides, although any notion that they will be able to dominate it will have to be put to one side.

“I think a lot of teams will see what Edinburgh City have achieved and want a bit of that for themselves,” said Sludden. “You have the likes of East Kilbride and Spartans who will be out there and maybe fancy trying to emulate Edinburgh so it will be a highly competitive league.”

However, Mooney believes Shire can be confident of challenging for the title and getting back into the SPFL in a year. But he says that will mean changing the culture at a club which has struggled for so long at the higher level.

“The main part of our job, once we have put a squad together, is to go out and win and get the players to believe they can win,” said Mooney. “Maybe people at the Shire have got stuck in a mindset that if they finish second bottom they have done well. This season we have to change the habits and get a winning mentality.”

Sludden says despite the difficulties they want to set their sights as high as possible, adding: “The main aim is to get the club back up in one go, and we want to give it our best. Hopefully we will get some fresh new players who have not come from that old mindset then that will help.”