The chairman of East Stirlingshire has welcomed new Head Coach Craig Tully to the club describing him as “a leader and a winner.”
The 38-year-old will take up his post next week after relinquishing his post as assistant boss of SPFL League Two champions Peterhead for a very different kind of task than the one he has faced at Balmoor for three years.
The appointment brings to an end a process which started with current coach John Coughlin’s refusal of a one year extension to his current deal. Coughlin will take charge of Shire for the last time when the face Montrose on Saturday.
Chairman Tony Ford, while sad to part with the likeable Coughlin, who struggled manfully with meagre resources, is welcoming the new era.
“Everyone at the Shire owes John Coughlin a big vote of thanks for the last three years,” said Ford. “He has worked harder than anyone to improve our image on the pitch and gain respect for a club who had become something of a joke.
“This season has been his reward for all that. The team was top of the league for the first three months of the season and although results have tailed off we were genuine promotion play-off contenders all season.
“We had hoped John would stay and continue his good work over the past three years but he felt it was time for a break. We have to respect that and move on and in Craig Tully we are bringing in a leader and a winner,” said the Shire chairman.
Tully is not unknown to Shire fans. He spent a couple of very successful seasons with them as a player during which time they reached the promotion play-offs.
The club also set him on his way into the world of coaching by giving him overall charge of Shire’s under-17 team during the 2011/12 season. That came to an end when he was offered, and accepted, a coaching position at Peterhead.
The Shire chairman is hopeful that kind of experience will stand the new man in good stead when he takes over the reins of responsibility for the first time.
“With a club like the Shire you need a strong character like Craig in charge,” said Ford. “It was always in our minds that we might like to give someone their first shot at being their own boss.
“Shire are an ambitious club. We want to plan for the long-term future and have made our intentions known over moving to a new stadium in Grangemouth. We also want to have a community focus and are taking significant strides to getting young boys and girls playing for the club each weekend with the eventual aim of developing our own first team.”
Meanwhile, Coughlin’s last game does have significance because a victory would cement the team in sixth place in the final table. A defeat could see them slip as low as eighth.
Ross O’Donoghue, who missed last week’s 5-0 defeat at Elgin, returns. Chris Townsley is a doubt.