Brown Ferguson 'confused' and 'surprised' by timing of Stenhousemuir dismissal

Brown Ferguson's Stenny defeated Queen's Park in the play-offs in his first and fourth seasons in charge
Brown Ferguson's Stenny defeated Queen's Park in the play-offs in his first and fourth seasons in charge

Brown Ferguson's Stenhousemuir sacking is one that has confused a lot of people around Scottish football, including the man himself.

Having first been in the dugout as interim in January 2014, Ferguson grabbed what he described as his 'proudest' moment at Stenny a month later, a 3-3 draw with Rangers at Ibrox.

Ferguson after what turned out to be his last match in charge, against Stranraer

Ferguson after what turned out to be his last match in charge, against Stranraer

After ending his playing career at Ochilview in the summer of 2014, Ferguson kept the Warriors in League One through the play-offs the next season after replacing Scott Booth, who he was originally assistant to, as manager in February 2015.

After another campaign in League One, Stenny were relegated in 2017, with the club in financial trouble and struggling to attract players, but gained an instant promotion back to League One last campaign - beating heavy-favourites Peterhead and then Queen's Park at Hampden in the play-offs.

In his fourth full-season in charge, stability was surely the aim for Ferguson and Stenhousemuir. But it wasn't to be. After 12 league games, with the club sitting ninth and just three points behind a Stranraer side they were defeated by on Saturday, Ferguson and Stenny 'parted company'.

"It was a complete surprise to myself," Ferguson told the Falkirk Herald. "There had been no warning or conversation.

Ferguson kept the Warriors up in 2015, having taken over from Scott Booth in February

Ferguson kept the Warriors up in 2015, having taken over from Scott Booth in February

"There have been moments throughout my time at the club where there have been conversations and expectations clearly set, but on this occasion there was nothing - I wasn't aware of the decision and, like many others, I was very surprised with it."

The news came on Tuesday evening with Stenhousemuir having gone down 2-0 at home to Stranraer on the Saturday - but the Ochilview side had won two of three previous to that defeat, including a win away at Airdrieonians the week prior.

Ferguson admitted he was struggling to understand the timing: "I think we are all a little bit confused. My concern is that it puts the club under undue pressure. The board, the players and the next manager.

"You can see how tight the league is - a couple of wins either way can make all the difference and change the complexity. We didn't win on Saturday, but if did we would have been sitting in fifth. There's such a fine line.

Ferguson worked his play-off magic again this year, guiding Stenny past Queen's Park (again) and heavy favourites Peterhead.

Ferguson worked his play-off magic again this year, guiding Stenny past Queen's Park (again) and heavy favourites Peterhead.

"And it's fair to say that, at the start of the season, everyone at the club would have shaken hands on eighth place and a season of stability."

With the decision shocking Warriors supporters, club Chairman Iain McMenemy explained to RockSport Radio that the decision did not just boil down to this season.

Stenhousemuir also alluded to that fact in their statement announcing the 37-year-old's departure: "Brown has a long association with the club as a player, coach and manager, and during that time has built up many strong relationships within the club. It was those relationships which led us to support Brown through some difficult periods."

Brown told the Herald that he was upset by the wording of the statement: "I must admit I was disappointed. I can understand that they were trying to respect that it was a difficult decision - but it struck me as if they were saying 'if he wasn't such a nice guy, and hadn't been around the club as long, we would have done this before now.'

Ferguson, who played for Stenhousemuir for three years, is immensely proud of his four and a half years as manager.

"My first year in charge, I was asked to lift morale and avoid relegation - which we did, through the play-offs. The next season, we built on that and we were never in any real danger.

"The season after that, we had a difficult moment as a club. We couldn't actually sign any players and only had nine on the books. Unfortunately, although we did go down, we went down with pride, dignity and with 39 points - quite a significant tally.

"There was a recognition of that, and that's why they continued with me. And then last season, we got promoted and that was the objective.

"I am confident we were going to go on and get it right this season and I had the backing 100% from the players and 100% from the support. When you look at what was asked of myself, Jim, the staff and the players at the club, we achieved it every single year.

"For Iain to suggest it was more than just this season, I find that more surprising than the decision."

Despite believing his sacking was harsh and poorly timed, Ferguson wished Stenhousemuir all the best in a dignified statement on his Twitter page and did the same when speaking to the Falkirk Herald, before adding: "I have a met a lot of very good people and don't have a bad word to say about anybody. I have got a genuine love and affinity for the club and hope to be back at Ochilview."

For now, the 37-year-old says he is going to take some time away with his family, but added: "I won't be sitting still. I would love to be involved in football again."