Smells like team spirit for Tom Taiwo

Bob McHugh has made such an impact off the bench there are calls for him to start more games for Falkirk.

But Tom Taiwo believes that in a squad as close-knit as Falkirk’s it doesn’t matter who is coming off the bench, it’s the difference that is being made on the pitch that counts.

The midfielder has spent a spell on the sidelines after being injured in the home match with Hibs in October. Since his return he’s been in and out the team, as many have with Peter Houston cycling what squad he has fit to keep a freshness about Falkirk.

Taiwo believes the manager’s tactics, and personal respect coupled with the bond within the dressing room has contibuted to the successful season which could finish with the Bairns in second place.

“We all know we have a role to play. The manager rotates the squad and realistically there’s 15 boys feeling they can start and play, so it is a squad effort. The gaffer pulls you aside and speaks to us. There’s honesty and respect.

“You see boys at other clubs coming on as a substitute and they seem angry and aggrieved. Our boys have come on and changed the games. Unless you have a happy dressing room who realise it’s a squad effort and you’re fighting together then they wouldn’t make that impact. It’s not necessarily that the players on the pitch aren’t doing something right, it’s just the coaching staff notice a need for change and have helped the positive results.

“The manager understands that this club gives players a platform to rebuild the careers if they’ve lost their way a little bit, and its a club which promotes young boys through the ranks and helps all of them further their careers. That next step for the club is the SPFL Premiership, and to become established there in the near future.

“He knows we want to be the best we can be, and only wants players with ambition to go further than Falkirk, to the top clubs in the country and world. We all want to be the best we can be and we have maybe been producing performances which, to people from the outside, are overstating our abilities.

“People were always saying it was a two horse race, we pushed Rangers and are now in a commanding position with Hibs going down to the wire, it’s testament to the manager and coaching staff and how they’ve prepared us.”

Bairns boss Houston is on the PFA shortlist for manager of the year, but his work is not finished yet with the play-offs still to come. Between the Scottish Cup final last season and pre-season training, Falkirk only took a three weeks break meaning the Bairns have been on the go for almost two years with barely any prolonged rest in between.

But such are the travails of a successful team, whose season carries on until the final days and Falkirk could yet be in action in just under a month’s time should their promotion quest be successful.

Taiwo, who has been out for a long stretch, is seeking as long a season as possible for personal and promotional reasons.

“It doesn’t feel a long season for me, with my injury over a long stretch of it. It feels like my season is just beginning – but what a great place for it to restart, the important games and hopefully a strong run in the play-offs leading to a possible promotion.

“I am the worst injured player ever! A week is too a long a time without a game for me! Ross (Grady) the physio couldn’t wait to get rid of me. It’s just a situation, seeing the boys buzzing after games and training and though you’re a part of the squad you’re not a part of it.

“Being back amongst it, getting good results, it’s a totally different positive feeling.

“I feel I’ve done well. I had a good start until my injury but I feel my performances are improving since I have come back into the side.

“However I know that there is a chance someone else will be selected because it is such a competition for places, but we all know that it is for the good of the team and it’s a tactical switch in order for the team to win the game which is the most important.

“Towards the end of every season I’ve played, I’ve always had something to aim for. The boys are all itching to play.

“Second gives us a better chance of being promoted and it’s not just being promoted, it’s a desire to be involved and get us there, and being shattered but feeling the self-reward which would be extra special with a play-off victory under our belt.”